Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How to do 10k a Day

Big Goals:

Is it possible to get 10k in a single day? I did and I am a tragically slow writer. I know writers who have achieved much higher word counts in a single day. One of them was 12. One of them managed to finish her entire nanowrimo novel in just over twenty four hours. A small part of me hates them both (while also loving them and being incredibly proud I have such awesome friends).

The important thing is that it’s possible for anyone to do 10k in a day, but it does require some planning. This is how I do it.

When to Aim High:

While achieving an obscenely high word count is possible, it's not always the right thing to do. The quality will suffer--though perhaps not as much as you think--so time saved writing may then be wasted on editing. However proving that you CAN do it is one of the most empowering things an author can do, and I highly recommend it.

Don't let your fear of the quality hold you back. However don't try and rush a high word count because you have a major deadline in the near future either.

Before you begin:

Pick a day in advance. It's very difficult to wake up one morning and decide 'Today I'm going to write 10k'. You chances of failing are very high. You may need a week or more to plan, or maybe you can get everything together the day before. However for really high word counts you should plan to pace yourself and aim to do 1k an hour. If you want 10k, that's 10 hours of writing. If you're not ready start writing until 11am, you won't be finished until 9pm--and you'll be exhausted from getting everything ready in such a rush.

What to prepare:

Food. You will need three or four healthy meals, prepared and ready to go, in a nearby fridge. You will also probably need some healthy snacks, so get them ready in little Tupperware containers. Aim for foods with a low GI. You will need carbs and vegetables/salad and if you can get some omega three in there in the form of a cold tuna salad or nuts, do so.

Most of you will probably want plenty of coffee (I don't drink caffeine) and if you smoke, make sure you have enough that you won't need to go down the shop. Incidentals like toilet paper, milk, etc, all need to be ready too.

You will need your favourite, most comfortable clothes to be washed and laid out ready to put on. After six hours or so, you start to notice every little annoyance and tight/uncomfortable clothing will suddenly become a distraction worthy of giving up completely.

I highly recommend you completely outline the material you want to write over the 10k. Make sure you have plenty of bullet points--preferably about twice what you think you will need. I know many of you like to just 'write as you go'. However that rarely works for marathon sessions such as these. Much of your time will be spent trying to work out what happens next and your tired, addled brain will come up with some terrible ideas. Plan. You will appreciate it later.

First thing:

Shower. Dress in your comfortable clothes. Turn off your modem and unplug it from the wall. Do the same with your phone. Set up your computer and open your word files. Close the door so you are alone in the room.

Begin writing.

Those steps are very important and should be done in that order. Showering first wakes you up and doesn't give you the 'I stink, I should shower' excuse later on. Turning off your modem is even more important. You must deny yourself all internet access.

If you reach a stage in the manuscript that you realise you need to research, stick in some asterisks, highlight them in a neon colour and get back to that part later. No internet. No checking emails. Today it is just you and the words.

During the day:

You will probably be hungrier than usual. On a normal day I often don't eat until after 1pm, however during these writing marathons I am starving. Genuinely, overwhelmingly hungry. Which is why you have those prepared meals. Whip them out, choke them down, keep writing.

If you run out of food, it's getting late and you're still hungry, you have my permission to order pizza. However it will make you sluggish, so you really should try and have enough healthy food on standby.

You may not, however, go out and pick the pizza up yourself. No distractions. No excuses.

It’s brutal, but you have to stick with it until you reach your goals. If you start to get a headache, take painkillers right away, before it can get too bad to focus. You will make a great many excuses to stop. If you can't be alone at home, do all this at a library (I have) or even tolerant cafe.

Hotel rooms with shitty cable are awesome, because there is nothing else to do.

If I can do it, you can do it, because I am nothing special.

Faith, determination and positivity will get you over the line.

Happy writing!

Copyright 2012. Talitha Kalago.

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