Whether you’re preparing for NaNoWriMo or just want to boost your output, you’re capable of writing way more in a day than you think you are.
Here’s a challenge: try writing 10,000 words in just three days. Can you do it? Your initial answer was probably, “No way!” But I want to prove you wrong. Let’s do this together, shall we?
Your first day, you’ll only write 2,000 words. Now, with a goal of 10,000 words in just three days, that probably doesn’t make much sense. Why would you make such little progress the first day, and leave yourself with 8,000 more words to write over the next two days?
The problem here is that you’re thinking too big! 10,000 words is a lot to write in a short amount of time. But the key to Making It Happen is to start small, break up your word count, and chip away at your progress a little at a time until, before you know it, you’re there.
There’s this thing I like to informally call the 500 word rule. If you have a hard time sitting down and getting started right away (it happens to me, too), this trick will change your writing productivity forever. Trust me.
Today you’re going to make a big jump — from an easily attainable (maybe?) goal of 2,000 words to an end-of-day goal that might sound terrifying: 5,000 words.
Really, it’s just 500 words … 10 times.
Writing 500 words really doesn’t take that long, once you get going. You just have to do it a whole bunch of times until you reach 5,000.
There’s no law that says you have to write your entire word count all at once. You could, if it’s easier for you, write 500 words at a time, spread throughout your day, to make it a lot less … painful? Unless that would completely drive you nuts. Then don’t do that.
What’s much more likely to happen is that you’ll aim for 500, maybe write 600-700 … and then decide 700 is sort of close to 1,000, you might as well write 300 more words …
And it just keeps going, until — BOOM. You’re going over your word count goal for the day, and have to stop yourself before you go too deep and neglect all your other responsibilities (writers: do not forget to eat, sleep, shower, play with your pets, remind your friends and family you are still breathing).
Interested in writing 5,000 words in a day more often? Here’s how to do it.
Yesterday, you wrote 5,000 words. That was a lot, and chances are you probably won’t be able to do that two days in a row. So you don’t have to. Today you will write 3,000 words, which two days ago, seemed like a lot, probably.
But remember: yesterday, you wrote 2,000 more words than that.
Today, 3,000 words will feel … easy? Almost. Easier, maybe.
And now that you know the 500-word rule, you’ll find it much easier to start writing. Once you really get going, and you enter a flow state, you might even find it nearly impossible to stop once you reach your ultimate 10,000-word goal.
You’re probably going to feel tired, and a little brain dead, after all this is over.
BUT LOOK WHAT YOU DID. LOOK WHAT YOU CAN DO.
It’s rare you’ll have to write this much of the same project in such a short amount of time. But it can be done. You can write more than you think you can. Sometimes, unnecessary deadlines are excellent training tools to help you practice how to write faster.
Try it. You (probably) won’t regret it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.