East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Twentifive hundred words in ten days


_wsb_422x226_Writer+in+JarThis is going to be tricky.
I’m about to write 25.000 words – give or take a few paragraphs – in ten days, or I’ll miss a deadline.
And I can’t miss the deadline.
Two deadlines, actually

The plus is, I’ve about 5000 words already – so yes, I’m cheating, I’ll have to write only 20.000
It’s not much, really.
It means writing two thousand words per day.
Twenty hundred good words, that is.

I already did it – two years back, I wrote a 40.000 novel in eight days.
Not a very good novel, but it was a viable first draft.
I got all the basics on the page.
I’m currently reworking in in final draft and plan on publishing it soon.
So, I got me a novel in eight days.
But,. moot importantly, I learned I could do it – someone said I missed the training, and I’d fail.
But I did it.
And now I have the training, too.
Since then I did another high-volume writing week, when I was writing my doctoral dissertation.
I learned more tricks – I got some good advice from great people – and my writing is more focused.
I can easily do 5000 words per day without sweating it.
The true limit, to me, is the mechanical act of typing – the pain in my hands after eight hours on the keyboard.
The main cause is, I’m heavy-handed – I started on a mechanical typewriter, and I’m used at really punching down hard.
This is bad.
So I’ll have to concentrate on my hands, keep the fingers as light as possible.


So here’s my personal recipe for writing 20.000 words in ten days.

. write a good outline
. plan a solid, simple structure
. get a lot of stuff handy – notes, maps, photo references so that, when you get stuck (and you’ll get stuck) you have something ready to fill the gaps
. don’t stop writing

I normally do two runs – on the first, I write down, as fast as I can, as much text as I can.
Then I can do a second pass and clean up, fill in the missing pieces, straighten the things that need to be straightened.

To pull such a trick one needs tools.
As I already mentioned, I’m now using Scrivener, that is a swell software.
But for sheer speed and heavy-lifting in terms of churning out words, nothing beats a common notepad – like Gedit, if you run under Linux.
For me, at least – some prefer distraction-free word processors.

splashOne very important thing I use, when I go on these writing binges, is a software called WorkRave.
It’s a small utility that helps managing working time – it sets breaks and relax intervals, and scheduled exercise for hands, arms and back. It helps a lot, it makes workload lighter and actually increases productivity.

Anything else?
Yes – tea.
A dark brown sea of tea to keep me afloat.

Finally, some tactical considerations.

. forget about Facebook and Twitter for eight solid hours a day.
. plan for some relax time – in the evening, if you’re not a night owl, or early in the morning.

Anyway – it’s going to be a tough, interesting week.
I’ll keep you posted.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

5 thoughts on “Twentifive hundred words in ten days

  1. Best of luck, Davide! I too once wrote a 40k novel in a week. It was a lot of fun, but I hate deadlines 🙂


  2. I know that if I have to and if I need to, I can churn 2000 words or more in a day, what I lack is the mental stamina to do it for more than one day. So, kudos to you for being able to pull the “trick”, and happy writing 🙂


  3. Pingback: Taking care of my hands | Karavansara

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