The ten-thousand word weekend (or how to turn your brain into pudding in six easy steps)

So a few months ago I decided to do something crazy. Not bungee-jumping or finally-getting-that-tattoo crazy, but hey-let’s-take-productivity-to-the-next-level crazy.

I decided to write 10,000 words in one weekend (including Friday evening). It was something I hadn’t ever done before, and frankly didn’t know if I had it in me. I tend to be more of a 1,000-word-a-night writer. I met the goal, I didn’t die, and I’ll probably do it again. Here’s my game plan if you’d like to try it yourself.


1. Have a suitable-sized project. Obviously you should lay down words a work-in-progress that needs more than 10k. I didn’t say you have to complete it; I’m just saying if you start what you think is a novella and it turns out to be done at 7500 on Saturday afternoon, you might lose your oomph. Unless, of course, you have a second (or a third, etc.) project to go to. In which case you should ignore this checkpoint and go on to the next. Having an outline (or at least a really, really good idea where you’re going) is a good idea, too.

2. Tell (warn) your loved ones about your plan. Very few of us are full-time writers and we all have to fit writing in between the nooks and crannies of life. If you want to make an ambitious goal like 10k in three days, you’re gonna have to give your family and friends a heads up. For one thing, you’re going to be holed up in your writing cave wearing sweatpants and ignoring the phone so it’s the polite thing to do. For another, it’s a whole lot easier for your family and friends to be supportive if you clue ’em in.

3. Make mini-goals. All big goals are easier to wrap your mind around if you break them into little ones. Ten thousand words is daunting. But two thousand words isn’t so bad. Here’s how I broke it down: three thousand on Friday night, five thousand on Saturday, and two thousand on Sunday. I broke each day down to individual writing sprints of 45 to 90 minutes each, taking at least a 15-minute break between them.  Of course, by Sunday my writing-brain was pooped and so those were the hardest by far to write. But I had already come so close and accomplished so much I wasn’t about to stop before I’d reached my goal.

4. Reward yourself. Hit a goal? Grab some chocolate. Have a particularly good writing sprint? Take a break. Schedule some time to get some exercise or do a mindless hobby. Small breaks will boost your productivity. Have a bigger reward in mind when you complete all 10k.

5. Realize that you might need to take a few days off. Believe it or not, afterwards you’ll be worn out, mentally and physically. You’ll need a few days away from your manuscript in order to refill the writing well.

6. But don’t rest on your laurels. A few days is okay. A few weeks is not. Get back on that horse, skippy.







Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “The ten-thousand word weekend (or how to turn your brain into pudding in six easy steps)

  1. I might try a few 5,000-word Saturdays later this summer. Breaking it up into 90-minute or less chunks is a good idea.

    • Kelly Swails

      Breaking it into little chunks of time is key. Writing for five hours is less daunting when you say “I’m going to write for ninety minutes three times.”

      I guess that’s only 4-1/2, but you get the point.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s