Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by Ben Oakley
The title of this post is slightly misleading. One can write 10,000 words in a day but to write that amount consecutively is an exceedingly difficult task. However, it’s possible.
Imagine writing 10,000 words a day for 30 days and then for six months and then for an entire year? You would have burnt out long before then.
So, we fall back to structure and planning. If writing is a full-time job, then 10,000 words in one day is easy to do if focus is maintained over the course of a day. It’s even easier if you’re repeating the same work over and over and again, for example, a,a,a,a,a,a,a,a.
But that is pointless as the words (or letter) you’re committing to screen don’t amount to anything other than filling up space on a document.
There are some quiz games online where you must tap one letter or the space bar as many times in a minute as possible. The average is 300 taps per minute. If we assume you can maintain the finger strength needed to continuously hit the keyboard for an hour, then you could bash out 18,000 words (thanks Google Calculator!).
If you’re doing that for nine hours a day then you could bash out 162,000 words in a day, if we consider individual letters as words.
But that is all codswallop because it would just be a random succession of letters or one continuous letter. And it would make you look just a little bit doolally.
So here are my personal tips and talking points for hitting 10,000 words in a day.
1. Do what you Love and Love what you do
You must enjoy your writing. If you’re not, then it’s going to be a long dark road ahead. We mostly read for pleasure so why not write for pleasure?
There’s nothing worse than sitting down at a screen and not looking forward to an hour or day of writing. It impedes creativity, demotivates, and feels forced. Writing should be enjoyable, whether you are writing for yourself or for another like teachers or exams.
Do you see writing as a chore or as a pleasurable experience? If it’s the former, then bashing out 10,000 words in a day might be one challenge too many. Enjoy what you do, love what you do and more importantly – do what you love.
If you have the passion to write, then it shines through and makes putting words on the screen just that little bit easier.
2. Don’t set impossible targets
Set a target, if it’s 500 words a day or 5,000, it all moves in the right direction. Most writers wouldn’t be able to maintain 10,000 words a day, every day for the rest of their lives so don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself.
If you set a target of 50,000 words in a week and hit 42,000, you’re going to feel disappointed. Sure, you might move the goalposts, but the original target would not have fallen and that will play over and over in your head.
Any way you look at it, writing 42,000 words in a week is a superhuman achievement. But if you aimed to hit more, you might even be disappointed at that.
Writing takes practice and patience. Think of it as starting jogging for the first time. You couldn’t run a marathon the first time you start pounding the pavement, so what makes you think you can do 10,000 words in a day immediately?
Build up to it. Start small and you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t work. Aim for 500, then 1,000 and then if it feels right and relaxed, slowly increase it.
You’ll then begin to see what your sweet spot is and what needs to be done to increase the daily word count.
3. Plan ahead
Most authors will say that to hit 10,000 words in day you have to plan, plan, plan. But that’s not always the case. I’ve done this both ways and both work well. Let’s look at the planning route first.
Know what you’re going to write before you write it. Plan out the upcoming chapters. If you write 2,000 words a chapter, then plan out the next five. Bullet-point the main beats and then you have something to fall back on when you get stuck.
I’ve done it so many times in the middle of a chapter where for whatever reason I lose track of where I’m going. Then I drop down to the bullet points and I’m like; “oh yeah!”
If you have several chapters planned out or the entire book, then it becomes so much easier to stay focused and stay on track.
4. DON’T plan ahead
But what if you didn’t plan? Writing 10,000 words a day doesn’t always need meticulous planning and sometimes it’s the better for it. If you have no plan, then you can let your characters or story take you off into all kinds of directions you hadn’t expected.
You had a side-character that suddenly needs a bigger role in the story or a plot device that pops up when you hadn’t planned it. Writing off-the-hook can be fun, interesting, and entirely natural. Don’t worry too much about the structure, the grammar, or the logic.
It’s a first draft, most 10,000-word days will be. Instead of focusing on one section for hours, just make some notes and move on. By continuously writing and living in the story and in the heads of the characters then the flow might come easier than expected.
5. DO self-edit!
A cacophony of authors somewhere maybe shouting; “WHAT?” We’ve been told for years to never edit as you write but personally, I disagree with that. It is what works for me but might not work for others.
Once I finish a chapter or a couple of pages, I read it back and then edit a small amount of it to ensure continuity – or rewrite just terribly written first-draft grammar. By doing this, it keeps me fresh and focused on the job at hand.
It’s easy to lose track, with or without a plan in place, so to keep going back and checking a few things it certainly can help the flow of the story. You can still write 10,000 words in one day and self-edit at the same time.
Sometimes with a first draft, I might know that a written line is a terrible line, but I’ll persevere until the end of the chapter and then go back and change it. This way it makes the second draft a little bit more legible and a little quicker.
However you do it, 10,000 words in one day IS possible with the right dedication, mindset, and passion!