How to Write 5k In a Day

Photo by: Kristin Nador

Recently, I began drafting a new WIP. While I technically wanted to wait until this final round of edits was complete on Destiny Awakened so I could begin the querying process, this story and its characters refused to let me move forward on anything until I gave them some drafting attention.

And by drafting attention, I mean getting 5k down in one day, followed by another 5k, and another, and another. Before I knew it, I’d reached the 30k mark. *cue hallelujah chorus* How in the world did this happen? Most times it’s like pulling teeth to get to 30k within two weeks, much less within one week.

Like a good student of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, I set out to discover the secret to my fast-drafting so I could share and hopefully help me fellow writers see their word counts soar to new heights as well. *grin* And to make the discovery even more daunting, I set out on that journey on a Tuesday night, right after a rough day at the dayjob.
Did it still work? Did I still get 5k down within that small window? Why yes, yes I did. And here’s how:

  1. At all costs, turn off the inner editor and ignore the my-brain-moves-faster-than-my-fingers mentality. In other words: DON’T LOOK BACK! NEVER LOOK BACK! What’s that saying? “Don’t look back. It’s bad luck.” Exactly. This applies to writing. If you look back and start corrected anything you’ve previously written while drafting, you’ll ruin the mad-writing-mojo you’ve got going on. One thing that helps me with this is having a wickedly-awesome story-themed playlist plugged into my ears. It drowns out the inner editor’s voice.
  2. Have a road map. Or at least have some idea of where you’re story’s going to go. You know those moments where you’re stuck because you don’t know where to go from there? Yup. I hate that too. One way to negate this is by having some idea of where your story is going. If you’re a pantser, then hearing this may make your eye twitch. Relax. Breath. You don’t have to plot by normal standards before you set out to write. Instead, you can spend the first 30-or-so minutes brainstorming about what you’re going to write: what scene(s) is in your head? How will that scene(s) contribute to the overall plot? Once you’ve got this down, start writing. The best part about doing this is that nothing is in stone. If the muse throws you a bone and takes you in a completely different-yet-workable direction, follow as though you’re Dorothy and the breadcrumbs the muse is leaving you are your yellow brick road.
  3. Lock the doors, turn off the television, turn the volume up on your writing playlist. So I already addressed why the playlist should be turned up – this helps tune out the inner editor. Locking the doors and turning off all distractions is also a major factor in getting 5k words down in one day. Now, I don’t have children – yet – so I’m sure this is going to be difficult to do when I do, but even so, it’s important for parents to take time out for themselves. So if you’re a parent, this just may be the time you choose to take just for yourself. If so, lock that door and pray the kids don’t get into too much trouble while you’re drafting. :0)
  4. Put the pressure on yourself – but not too much pressure. Ah, pressure, pressure, pressure. I’ve got to get down 5k today. Because if I don’t, then I won’t be able to move forward tomorrow, and that means I won’t have this first draft completed on time. Or better yet: If I don’t get 5k down today, then I can’t have that yummy red velvet cupcake my bestie made. And damn, it’s so yummy….I have to have one of those today. See what I did there? Yup, figure out your ultimate goal, and use it to put the pressure on yourself. If you’re an unpublished author, then it’s time we started to get used to having deadlines, and this is one way to get started. But be careful with this one! Stress kills. Don’t push yourself so far off the edge that you end up losing lots or sleep or depriving yourself of life’s pleasures.
  5. Take breaks – often. One thing I learned in my Immersion Master Class with Margie Lawson is that taking breaks is crucial. Before Colorado, I would sit my butt in the chair for…I dunno… like 5 hours straight. Yeah…and the hubby was a big contributor to that success because he’d gladly bring me coffee, soda, water, food, and chocolate. But since I’ve returned home, we’ve made it a point to ensure that I’m breaking away from the computer at least once every 1.5hrs or so. Now, the rule for your eyes is that you should give them a break every hour by concentrating on something other than the computer screen, and that’s easy to do as long as you have some research printed out that you can concentrate on during that time. But after about 90 minutes or so, you’ll want to completely step away from all things story-related to take a walk, watch an episode of that TV show we’re behind on, run out and grab a cup of Starbucks, or peruse the shelves at the local bookstore for 30 minutes. However you choose to break for at least 30 minutes, do it. You’ll sit back down at the computer and the words will flow so much faster than they would’ve if you hadn’t taken that break (and your body – particularly your butt – will thank you).

What about you? Do you find yourself fast-drafting to get through that initial draft? What is your largest wordcount in a single day? What other secrets of fastdrafting can you share?

8 thoughts on “How to Write 5k In a Day

  1. This is great! I'm happy for you that you were able to get it done and it's also fantastic advice to newbie fast-drafters.

    I wouldn't add anything else – you've got a good list of advice already. I do use Write or Die for my own fast-drafting (writeordie.com) because it forces all those distractions away from my imagination. I think my highest fast-draft using that was 10K in a day – but, honestly, I don't think I'd ever try it again. 😉

    Jessica
    Vision of Other Worlds

  2. Hi Annie!

    Isn't one of the best feelings in the work to knock out that many words in a day? 😉

    Thank you so much for the comment! Happy Writing! 😀

  3. Hi Jessica –

    Aw, thank you! 🙂 It's been a long time since I used Write or Die. I may have to do that again this weekend. I've got a large goal to get another 10k done by Sunday night, so I may have to incorporate that into my process this time around and see how it goes.

    Oh, 10k a day? Wow! Kudos to you for doing that! Yea, I can imagine how tough writing that much in a day can be. Brain's mush after 5k…can't imagine after 10k. I think I'd take the following day off and do nothing but lie in bed. LOL!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂

  4. I've managed 5k in a day. Once. LOL. Had kids (or one kid) too, but it was when she still used to have a day nap! Don't think I could manage it now. Great tips, I agree with all of them. Except I do correct spelling mistakes or mistypes. Can't help it because my fingers have already done it before my brain catches up!

  5. Hello Rinelle!

    Yes, it's definitely difficult to get 5k in a day done, even without kids. Just yesterday morning I was trying to get that goal completed and I had to get up every 10 minutes because our two cats wouldn't stop fighting. They got from horsing around to actual fighting and it was like they just didn't want their mom to get any words down!

    LOL! I do agree with you on correcting the spelling mistakes – like you said, with those you've already gone back and corrected before your brain even knows what it's doing. 🙂

    Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! Hope you've been having a fabulous weekend! 😀

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