Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Twentifive hundred words in ten days

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_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.

carpal-tunnel-exercises

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 🙂

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  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 🙂

    Like

  3. Pingback: Taking care of my hands | Karavansara

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