How I wrote 20k words in 3 days

In my last blog post, I mentioned that as I wrote, I was flagging, due to having written 10k words the day before. However, I wanted to be more consistent and write every day, or as near to that as possible, so reasoned something was better than nothing.

As I recall, I didn’t get all of my chores done that week, but I certainly got a lot of writing done.

Years back, in the middle of writing Plus One, I had three 6500-word days in a row, which adds up to 19,500 words or thereabouts. Just a smidge under 20k. Infuriating, right? To me, anyway. To get so close yet so far. And ever since then, I’ve wanted to reach that benchmark of writing 20k words in 3 days.

The week of my last blog post, I finally managed it after all this time. How? By scheduling my day in advance. Okay, I didn’t exactly stick to it, but the momentum I gained by getting up early (for me) and making an attempt at a rough writing schedule definitely benefited me.

As mentioned in my previous blog post, on Monday 6th September, I wrote 10,105 words which earned me a gold star sticker in my word count tracker notebook. The following day, the day the blog post went live, I only managed 2,616 words which, while low in comparison, is still pretty respectable. That evening, I added those two numbers together for a total of 12,721 words in only two days.

That meant, if I could write 7,279 words or more on Wednesday 8th, I’d have achieved my goal.

And I wrote…7,320 words, which mean across the 6th, 7th and 8th of September this year, I wrote 20,041. I only just scraped over the line but the point is, I did it.

I rather abandoned my chores, or should I say, had a bit of a rush later in the week to catch up with them. Writing became my priority for those three days, and achieving this goal I’d set for myself years before after nearly making it but not quite.

So, that’s how I did it. Scheduling my days in advance on Google Calendar and kinda sorta making an effort to stick to that schedule. Okay, I didn’t exactly, but at least I wrote 20k words. Using the pomodoro technique of writing in 25 minute bursts of activity. And if it came to it, delaying the vacuuming and ironing until those words were down.

As I’m drafting this blog post on Monday 20th, I’ve just had another 10k day, so you never know…I might repeat the feat…The Opposite of You now stands at 48,423 words and I just earned myself another gold star sticker in my word count tracker notebook.

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Cleaning house

You might notice things looking a little…bare, around here. Yeah, I got minimalism into my head again and rather than clearing out some unwanted or obsolete posts, I deleted the lot. Why? Well…I’d previously written whistleblower-style posts about shenanigans, of which I personally have evidence and experience, in the publishing business but the problem with Romancelandia is…it doesn’t care. Matters such as plagiarism, having your work published without payment or credit, certain authors being scam artists…those don’t matter unless they directly affect the careers, incomes or reputations of the in-crowd.

It reminds me of the time in high school when a girl called Jenny said to the ‘top dog’ of our class, Alison, “If I say something, people make fun of me because I’m a nerd, but if you say exactly the same thing, people listen, but it’s only because they’re trying to suck up to you.”

Smart girl, that Jenny.

But anyway, I left school in 1992 and I expect better from people who claim to be ‘professionals’. More fool me.

My Patreon, Just as a side note, will be about my own writing directed at readers. Excerpts, cover art reveals and the like. (Only $2 per month! Very much cheapness!) In short, what I write, whereas this blog will be about how I write. And I guess I might use it to train myself to write to a set schedule. Soft deadlines each week.

Reasoning I owe Romancelandia as much loyalty as it has shown me, I threw my hands up and said, “Fuck it, okay, this blog will just be about my own writing life from now on. Techniques and hacks I discover, a record of my own progress and process, if you will.”

Anyway, yesterday I managed to pump out 10,105 words. My first 10k day since April. How? The night before, I wrote out a detailed schedule for the coming working week. Starting with getting up with the alarm, my morning routine, and blocking out chunks of time to be dedicated solely to writing, with no stopping off on social media sites until lunchtime, or the end of the working day.

How did I do? Well, as I said, I had a 10k day. But I didn’t exactly stick to my schedule. I got up later than planned but was still at my desk by half seven, so that was okay. Wrote more than 4k by lunchtime. Then I checked in on Twitter, got chatting to a few people, had something to eat, got back to work…and I started to flag, early afternoon. Not surprising. You don’t go from 0-60 creatively without some pushback from your brain and body. Plus, resetting your body clock always makes you a bit tired for the first few days.

So the afternoon was a grind. However, as I theorised (on Twitter, as it happens) maybe I didn’t slow down in the afternoon because I fell down the Twitter rabbithole again. Maybe I started socialising on Twitter because I was slowing down creatively. Twitter might not have been the cause of my afternoon slump, but the cure for it?

I overran my planned timetable for the 10k words, but I wrote them in the end and got all my Monday chores done, so all in all, a good day.

Most of the time, I used the pomodoro technique — 25 minute bursts of activity as experts say that’s the optimum length of time for creative work. You might want to experiment with that, see how long your focus lasts for. 25m is okay for me, although sometimes 15-20m is better.

I definitely get more done in the morning, especially when I get up with the alarm (or thereabouts; yesterday the alarm went off at 6am, I got up at quarter to 7) and get working as soon as I’m bathed and dressed. Get the momentum going. I had one writing sesh, broke to do some chores, another block of writing time, then lunch. Afternoon was a bit more piecemeal.

As I write this blog post, my current work in progress, The Opposite of You, stands at 26,065 words. In theory, it was only meant to be a 50k word novel but now MS Excel is telling me to add 20,000 words to that. At least. Hmm. Really flagging today. I’ve still come up with a respectable total, but it’s nowhere close to yesterday’s. But hey, it’s all progress in the right direction. And 26k on a novel into which I’ve put 12 days’ work? Not bad. I’ll take it.

Funny how NSFW was a struggle to write — less for the content, more for the lack of consistency. The story’s sound. I would say that, though, I’m the author. It just took some doing, given that I didn’t work every day. It’s the rare author who can, or even feels inclined to, if they’re also dealing with chronic illness, but I have to be honest with myself and say I let my productivity slide more often than was wise, in patches.

So I’m pleased with the progress on The Opposite of You so far. Tomorrow I have a Zoom call scheduled, and household chores to do. Regarding those, I have a schedule for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays which enables me to keep the flat clean and tidy, without shovelling all my chores into one day. If I get ill on that day, the whole place goes to rack and ruin, whereas spacing out my chores across the week means I only have to spend little bits of energy at a time, and if I lose a couple of days to illness, I only have the ironing to catch up on, or mopping the kitchen floor, rather than the more daunting task of doing the whole damn place top to bottom.

I’ll still get some fiction written tomorrow, though. I have the afternoon and evening to myself, so while I like to kick off my creativity first thing, due to scheduling and circumstances, sometimes that just isn’t possible. But as long as I get something written, that means this book will get finished at some point.

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