• Jared Viljoen

Day 179 - My 10K Day!!

Day 179! I can't believe I've been on this journey for that long already. Time flies when you're trying to publish a novel. Granted, a lot of that time was not spent writing a novel, but, yeah, I'm trying to change that now. In that time we came up with a novel idea, then I totally scrapped that and went down a totally different path. We started a business and released our first product (see below). And, we became officially homeless and are travelling the country looking for our new home and have the kids being homeschooled (with the help of correspondence school) until the end of the year. So, lots of things going on.

But, nooooothing should get in the way of the writing, right?

The last few weeks have actually been pretty good. We've been travelling around the country like gypsies for about seven weeks now, and then lockdown hit. Thankfully, we've had a great place to stay at my wife's aunty's house (think rolling New Zealand countryside), which has been awesome for the kids. Thanks Aunty Fiona and Uncle Michael! And, it has also been really good for the writing. I've been able to get into a bit of a writing rhythm here. Maybe it's the country air or something, but I've been hitting out some solid writing numbers for the past week or two (3K average, 5K, 8K). And being in this good rhythm lead me to think the other day "Why don't I try go for a 10K day!".

Now, I've hit 10K+ in the distant past. Probably about four years ago. But, it is by no means a common thing for me. I know there are crazy people out there that can hit 10K per day easy, but I ain't one of them.

10K words per day is kinda a magical number. If I hit that everyday for two weeks I'd have a 140,000 word novel. Heck, that's two novels! At those numbers I could be pumping it out, releasing a book every few weeks like some of those people on Kindle. At least, that's the fantasy. But, I've always been a fan of fantasy, so the other day I thought to myself, "let's give this a go!"

I was pumped. I was gonna do it. I posted it on social media.

Then I got a headache. I didn't do it.

I still managed to get out over 3K words, which is pretty respectable, but it wasn't anywhere near that magical 10K that I wanted. So, the next day (yesterday) I recommitted... AND I DID IT!!

Yes, that's right. I hit 10K words in one day. At the end, the heavens opened, I heard choirs, the writing gods descended and granted me official status in the Writer's Realm and I will forever have any and all words written blessed by the Muse.

No. That's not right. I was tired and I shut my laptop and I went to sleep. But, it did feel good. And it wasn't even 8 hours sitting in front of the desk. Heck, at one point I was reclining on the couch watching Mission Impossible 5. So, I thought I'd walk you through my day of hitting 10K words, and how it was for me. Others may have a different experience.

My 10,000 word schedule.

Below was how my day played out, as recorded in my Writer's MoJo (remember that business I mentioned above... you can buy your copy here... it's awesome, it really is). Let me walk you through it.

As mentioned, I had a goal for 10K, also recorded in my MoJo:

7:30am - So, the day started slow. I slept in longer than I planned and dragged myself out of bed around 7:30am.

7:40ish am - Then it was into some writing. I think I managed to hit about 1,500 words. I try get some in first thing, as it gets me off to a good start.

9:00am - Then I had to break off for family needs and I was also getting hungry. So, breakfast and some other faffing about.

11:00am - I eventually sat down for some serious focused time just before 11am. Feeling pretty good here, and I managed just under 5K before I stopped at 12:30pm. We were booked in for COVID-19 vaccinations, so that chewed up a few hours, especially when some grocery shopping and Wendy's drive-thru was also thrown in.

3:00pm - After that, it was time for more writing around 3pm. I was feeling a bit sluggish here, and the words were not coming very fast. But, amidst much pacing and gazing into space, I still managed to drag things up to around 8.5K by the time dinner hit.

7:00pm - Time for dinner and socialising with the family. Then, after dinner we've been working our way through the Mission Impossible movies, so that eventually started around 8:30pm. I did manage to throw a few more words down, but my heart wasn't really in it at this stage. I was tired.

8:30pm or thereabouts - Movie time. I was tired. I knew I had more words to write to hit 10K, but I also didn't want to miss the movie. We were up to MI:5 now, and you can't break a streak like that once you're on it. So, I laid back on the couch and enjoyed the movie. It also felt good to lie back after sitting up typing for so long. Then, at around the 3/4 mark in the film, I thought I should try get a few more words down. So, I pulled out the laptop that was hiding under the couch and banged out a few more words while watching Tom Cruise once again pull a mask off his face. I maybe hit around 400 words doing this.

10:45pm-ish - I'm tired now. The movie's over. We're saying goodnight to the extended family and walking back down to the little unit that our family is staying in. It's cold but the stars are looking pretty good out here. The kids are jumping into bed, and my bed is looking pretty nice. But, at the back of my mind I'm thinking "you're so close!" So...

11:00pm - I open up the laptop, sit down at the desk and start smashing out the words. By now, I'm not really interested in the quality, I'm not agonising over words (I don't tend to do that at the best of times, at least on first go), I'm just getting through the scene. About ten minutes later, I check my wordcount for the day and I'm at 10,045 words! I DID IT! I save (A.L.W.A.Y.S S.A.V.E!), close the laptop with a satisfying (gentle) slam, and crawl into bed and fall promptly asleep.

And, that was it. I managed to hit the magical number. Unfortunately, as I sit here typing now my brain starts thinking "if you hit 10K yesterday, with some pretty big interruptions, how much do you think you could hit with if you really focused?". But, I'm trying to ignore that voice for the moment.

So, what does all this mean? I have no idea, but I do have some takeaways for hitting 10K+ in one day so here they are:

Jared's learnings from writing 10,000 words in 1 day

  • Writing fast requires prior prep-time so, outline, outline, outline. I'm a relatively fast draft writer (average about 1000 words per 30 minutes). But, I slow down a lot when I don't have an outline. So, for each chapter I was hitting yesterday I had already pre-planned what that chapter was about and I wasn't spending much time figuring things out.

  • Figure out your beats - While I had some beats of each chapter figured out, I hadn't really dug much into some of these scenes in my head. Some of them required a little world building, and I hadn't thought that through. So, in the latter part of the day, when I was writing these scenes, my writing started to slow down as I was trying to think about what a particular room or building looked like, or what was a particular ceremony supposed to do. Having these world-building aspects already done, would have allowed me to work a lot faster and not make it feel like such a grind.

  • Quality may drop - I was writing fast yesterday, but I wouldn't say the quality was amazing. I don't think it was terrible, but one thing I think I notice about my 'fast' writing is that it becomes very 'bullet-pointey'. The writing starts to lose the little colourful details and flourishes that add texture to a character and descriptions become quick outlines. Of course, this can all be fleshed out in the re-write and edit, but just be aware that writing fast means you're likely going to spend a little more time colouring in the spaces you left blank on the first pass. Some writers wouldn't be comfortable with this. Me? I don't mind. In some spaces I just insert an XXX where I can't remember a characters name or I haven't thought through a particular detail. I'll just come back and fix it up later. For me, it's all about pushing through to completing that first draft because I'm someone that is in danger of losing steam and not finishing. Speed helps me. As Stephen King said, I try to write fast enough to outrun the demons. Others may not be like that and prefer to craft their story more slowly on the first round. All good.

  • It's tiring - writing can be quite tiring. It's fine when a scene excites you, but not all scenes do that. I had a few of those yesterday. So, at times it felt like a bit of a slog and my brain was struggling to fire and quickly. It might also be because I am hitting the murky middle of the story now, which is always the hardest part. I'm sitting at around 57K words , and it's going longer than planned, which is another problem I have. I tend to write long. So, the scenes are coming a bit harder, the story is losing its 'new' shine. Which again, is why the speed helps me. It stops me sitting around thinking about what other great story I could come up with.

  • Get a comfortable chair! Writing, as you may expect, will require lots of time sitting down staring at a screen. Having a comfortable chair will be massive! The chair I'm on gets quite uncomfortable after a while, and I find myself pacing a lot, moving to a couch, moving back to the desk, etc. It probably doesn't help that I seem to have hurt my tailbone by falling over but the lesson stands, get a comfortable chair!

And there you go. Some learnings from writing 10K in 1 day. I'm not sure if I'm gonna try keep up this pace. It could be pretty gruelling to go for that day after day. At the moment I wanna at least hit 5K per day (5/6 writing days per week). But, ya never know. I'm just keen to get this thing done, especially after such a slow start.

Till next time.


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