Status Update #14: Going From 3k to 6k Words Per Day

Scott SummersStatus Updates

Novel Draft: Book 2
76,900 words

First things first:  The novel is coming along.  And it's coming along quickly, which is kind of what I want to talk about today.  This particular post might be more immediately relatable to writers, but I think the application applies to anyone engaging in anything that could be classified as "productivity".

When I started this novel, I planned to clock in at 3,000 words per day.  I realize that's a pretty tall order for most people, even by weekly standards.  If you're working full time or you have kids, 3k a day might sound like a miracle to you.

And I get it.  That's why it's important to maximize your writing time every chance you get, right?

Over the past month, I've read a lot of books that you'll see targeting productivity and output for today's writing market.  Especially for indie authors, output is king.  You don't have a product if you don't write, so quite literally, the fastest you can get a specific book to market, the better off you are.

Chris Fox's 5000 Words and Hour and Rachel Aaron's 2k to 10k are the two main books that have been floating around for a while.  I've read both of them (back to back) and have been playing around with the exercises in there.

Neither one of them helped me get from 3k to 6k, and I have some fundamental disagreements with each style.  The premise for both books, however, is simple:  produce, produce, produce.

So here's how I did it, and what I've run into over the past month that I've found bogs me down a bit:

1. Know What You’re Writing

If you want a high output, you've got to know what you're writing about. 

It's that important. 

I'm not saying there's no discovery in plotting things out.  I'm saying that you need to go into your writing session with a direction that your characters need to go and a few scenes or ideas about how to get them there.

Your mileage will vary, depending on what you need to get the story done.  Maybe you can say: 

Fred goes to the market, and that's where he meets Jenny.

If you can build a story out of that, great!  Do it.

Personally, I have to be more specific:

Fred goes to the market.  That's where he meets Jenny.  She's on the opposite side of the orange stand, and when the two of the reach out for the same orange, sparks begin to fly.  They laugh it off, but he notices how beautiful she is.  Those striking eyes, those raised cheekbones.  The curly hair.  God, the curls.  She looks like everything he wants in a woman.  ETC.

See?  I could work off the first.  But I guarantee that I (and probably you) can write the second example faster.

3. Don’t Dawdle

When I first started trying to figure out how I wanted to up my output, I figured that more time was what it took.  I'm in a rare opportunity right now where I can write full time, but I wasn't necessarily utilizing the time in the most efficient way possible.

At first, I'd only work on my story during the morning, then work on smaller projects in the afternoon.  So I'd top out at 3k by about 11:30, but I'd flag in the afternoon as soon as I stepped away from the keyboard.  The other work still got done, but it was far less efficient.

I then decided that I'd write THE ENTIRE DAY on a single project.  But still.  Just purely from a time investment standpoint, that got me up to 4.5k on my novel alone.  (None of these tallies include my 365 Stories Project, which can be anywhere from 50 to 1k words a day on its own.)

The unlock came for me when I started to divide my time into blocks to get over the afternoon slump.  Now, I write from 9:00 until I reach 2k words.  Then I take a twenty minute break and refresh.  Then I go again and stop for lunch.  Because I'm refreshed and recovered during that third stretch, I can hit that final 2k before 3:00PM.

That's about 1.2k per hour, for a five hour stretch and not including the other stuff I write (like this article or my daily story).  If we added those in, I could take this up to 7.5k or 8k daily.

My advice here is simply to experiment.  Take breaks, don't just buckle down and grit your teeth.

2. Block Your Writing Time

This one deserves its own bullet point on the list, but it's really that simple.  Don't dawdle.

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