Since pushing myself (and getting a little over-enthusiastic at my abilities), I’ve come to settle into a rhythm of a comfortable 10,000 words a week.
I know that probably doesn’t sound impressive considering some authors can manage nearly that per day (I’m looking at you Dean Wesley Smith and Rachel Aaron), but with a three-year old still at home (who is currently applying for the most annoying girl in the world when mummy is having computer time), a surly seven-year old who hogs the computer to watch minecraft videos (what’s he going to be like as a teenager?), and an obsession with decorating blogs (oooh look what she did with a piece of string and a picture frame), I think 10,000 words a week is still pretty damn awesome.
Plus who wants to compete to be the word count winner when it stresses you out? No thank you – I have enough stress in my life. Is that banana smushed into the couch again – groan.
So how do you write 10,000 words a week when you have a crazy life?
Planning and good time management.
- Push yourself to see where your limit is.
I tried 15,000 words a week (my thinking was that I could finish a 60,000 novel in a month on that word count). Couldn’t do it. I hurt my shoulders, back, and got stressed. (I already had a shoulder cuff injury that bothered me, but that’s another story). But by starting higher than you think you can do, you’ll see that you can do more than you believe. I wouldn’t have tried for 10,000 words a week if I hadn’t tried for more and cut back.
- Schedule (but keep it flexible).
Twice a week my youngest is in childcare (the other is in school). So for those precious hours between 9.30 and 3.30, I’m kidless. The house is quiet and I can relax. But not too much, because these two days is when I get the bulk of my writing done. Sometimes I can manage around 5,000-6,000 words during these hours – allowing for breaks. Generally though it’s more like 3,000-4,000. Just those two days I can get to around 7,000-8,000 words. For the rest of the week I write at night – an hour here, half an hour there. This is where I make up the shortfall so I can hit 10,000.
- Try productivity hacks
I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique. It’s 25 mins writing, 5 mins break, repeat four times then have a longer break. I use the 30/30 iTunes app for it set into 25/5 intervals and then just go. During the 5 min break I either get up and walk around or simply close my eyes thinking about what comes next in the story. There are other really good productivity hacks you can try – many of my friends are fans of the Seinfeld Don’t Break the Chain method – where you must write everyday so you don’t ‘break the chain’. I don’t use this however because …
- Have a day (or a weekend) off.
I don’t write everyday. I need at least one day break to clear my head. That’s why the Don’t Break The Chain method doesn’t work for me – but if you do like to write everyday you might want to check it out. I used to only write five days a week, but now I’ll usually fire up the laptop on a Saturday night too if I haven’t made my word count. We are trialing Switch Off Sunday’s in our house. No technology, for no one, every Sunday. (It’s probably worse on me as I’m picking up the iPad before I even get out of bed to check my email). But balance is good.
If you can keep up the pace of 10,000 words a week, that’s 500,000 words a year (assuming 50 weeks a year – come on, we need holiday’s too).
500,000 words a year is:
- 8 novels (approx 60,000 words), OR
- 20 novellas (approx 25,000 words), OR
- 100 short stories (approx 5,000 words each)
8 novels, here I come …