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Discussion Starter #1
If you're a fiction writer who consistently writes 5,000 words/day or more, I'd love to hear your answers to the following...

1) Briefly describe your typical work day, such as when you write, how long your sessions are, and how many sessions you typically have.

2) What was a key breakthrough(s), if any, that really exploded your word counts? A turning point in your writing career where your productivity really took off.

3) What is your top suggestion(s) you'd recommend to a young author who also wants to reach 5K+ words/day consistently?

Thank you SO much in advance!
 

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1) I write randomly, really. I try to get in at least four hours a day when I want to hit 5000 words, but I do it in spurts. I'll write for 10-15 minutes, and then do something else, then come back and do another 10-15 minutes. I can easily knock out 1500 words an hour, more if the story is flowing, less if I'm really distracted.

2) Key breakthrough - just writing a bunch. With every book I write, it gets faster and faster. So, practice is the answer. And, before I ever started writing fiction, I was an academic writer, where I wrote papers for people. I did that for years, and that was part of my training, too.

3) See above - just write. If you write a lot, you soon will get to the point where you get faster.

Oh, and if you're a plotter, you might try picking up the book "2,000 to 10,000." I've heard that helps a lot of writers. It didn't really help me, because I'm a pantser, but it might help you if you're not.
 

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anniejocoby said:
1) I write randomly, really. I try to get in at least four hours a day when I want to hit 5000 words, but I do it in spurts. I'll write for 10-15 minutes, and then do something else, then come back and do another 10-15 minutes. I can easily knock out 1500 words an hour, more if the story is flowing, less if I'm really distracted.

2) Key breakthrough - just writing a bunch. With every book I write, it gets faster and faster. So, practice is the answer. And, before I ever started writing fiction, I was an academic writer, where I wrote papers for people. I did that for years, and that was part of my training, too.

3) See above - just write. If you write a lot, you soon will get to the point where you get faster.

Oh, and if you're a plotter, you might try picking up the book "2,000 to 10,000." I've heard that helps a lot of writers. It didn't really help me, because I'm a pantser, but it might help you if you're not.
When you say you wrote papers for people do you mean college students paying you to write their essays and take online classes for them? If so, I did that for awhile (still do from time to time), it's really good money, especially if they're getting grants, they don't usually have a problem paying top dollar.

If you meant a different sort of academic writing them excuse me for assuming that you are as unethical as me :)
 

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I was about to recommend 2k to 10k, too!



There is a very easy-to-adopt system in there which makes writing 5k-a-day a breeze (basically, it comes down to pre-planning. Spend three miserable days outlining everything and figuring out all of your characters, and then when you sit down at the keyboard, your fingers will fly.)

I also use the Fly Lady technique (I think there's some other guru who does this... something about a tomato or something...?) ANYWAYS! The Fly Lady technique where you write in fifteen minute segments. There is an old saying that you can do anything for fifteen minutes a day. You set a timer, you don't let anything distract you, and you write for fifteen minutes. If you want to keep going, you can, but you can get up guilt free after that. But you have to keep coming back to the desk and writing for fifteen minute segments throughout the day until you reach that word count goal.
 

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KateDanley said:
I was about to recommend 2k to 10k, too!



There is a very easy-to-adopt system in there which makes writing 5k-a-day a breeze (basically, it comes down to pre-planning. Spend three miserable days outlining everything and figuring out all of your characters, and then when you sit down at the keyboard, your fingers will fly.)
Nuts! I was gonna say that too!

I work a full time job, but I'm lucky in that I really love to write. When I get home, I don't particularly care if I spend my entire evening writing. It's really enjoyable for me. That said, I'm not currently working on a draft, but when I am, I'm usually hitting about 6k a day. I probably average around 1200 words an hour.

No way would it be possible without an outline. Having a guide to what I should write that day is a huge help. There's no need for me to slow down and think about where my characters are heading, or what should happen in a particular scene, which is a tremendous boon to my daily word count because I get to focus on hammering out the words as fast as I can--which leads me to my next point.

Don't sweat the first draft. Let it be bad. That's fine. You'll never show it to anyone, so there's no harm done. Just make sure that you take your time in the revision process. As I write, I like to keep a list of things I know I'll want to revise. It's usually pretty long, trust me. :D

I'm still a young author myself, but I've found the trick to hitting big word counts is planning and putting in the effort.
 

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anniejocoby said:
1) I write randomly, really. I try to get in at least four hours a day when I want to hit 5000 words, but I do it in spurts. I'll write for 10-15 minutes, and then do something else, then come back and do another 10-15 minutes. I can easily knock out 1500 words an hour, more if the story is flowing, less if I'm really distracted...
I don't write 5k or more a day because I write at the same speed as annie does or roughly 1,250 words per hour give or take a few hundred depending on how much of the story is clear in my mind.

This month what I did differently after reading everyone's advice was to set a goal to write 2.5k words each day (on my current WIP). My main plan has been to simply get this knocked out first then I allow myself to do the social and/or learning things. I don't want to say that writing is not enjoyable for myself but I find that it takes time, concentration/focus and effort to write and to write well. Once I am writing if I know what I am doing in my story line then the time flies by and I enjoy it immensely. Actually sitting down and starting to work for me is the hardest part of writing.

If I wanted to I could knock out 15k words in 1 day but I have no doubt the quality would be much and my day would be half wasted. So far I've found that if I commit to 2 hours a day and get 2.5 k words done then the rest of the day I can think about what I wrote and how I want to move my story forward for my next writing session.

So to summarize, while not answering your questions exactly I am very pleased at my progress on my current work in progress that I started on January 1 of this year and here we on are January 29 and I have close to 70k words done so far and all at the quality that I want for my first draft. My first book (the current WIP is my second) took me several months writing one hour a day for lunch and missing many days (them were good lunch days LOL).

Good luck and my final thought to you is carve out something each day, better earlier than later so that you produce something. Brandon Sanderson, the fantasy genre writer who writes like 300 or 400k word novels actually blogged in an interview that he doesn't actually write very quickly but that he is CONSISTENT. I have adopted this and it is working for me so far this month.

Best of luck!
Regards,
SM
 

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JV said:
When you say you wrote papers for people do you mean college students paying you to write their essays and take online classes for them? If so, I did that for awhile (still do from time to time), it's really good money, especially if they're getting grants, they don't usually have a problem paying top dollar.

If you meant a different sort of academic writing them excuse me for assuming that you are as unethical as me :)
Yup, that's what I did, lol. I wrote over 600 papers in like two and a half years. Ethical? Not so much. But it was fun. :)
 

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It helps if you an type fast.

I learned to type in the 1970s on a manual typewriter and have no issue typing without watching where my fingers are on the keyboard.

This means I read what I write as I type, and I type nearly as fast as I can think about the dialog and the expanding scene.

I start with an outline of where each chapter is going - just a few sentences that I put at the top of the chapter, typically with the major scene goals in the chapter.

Filling in the detail, telling the story if you will, doesn't take that long.

Going back over the chapter immediately after finishing it takes as much time as the initial writing for me. I adjust the flow, tweak the dialog, grab something that could be foreshadowed or take notes for future use.  This halves my output....

Then I read the chapters I wrote yesterday. This is their second edit, and I always find something I want to tweak.  I may rearrange something at this point as well if I feel the need.

Now I update my timeline for the chapter that I just wrote. Why do I read yesterday first? In case I want to move things around that might change the timeline.

Now - I write another chapter.

So, I may put 5000 new words in a manuscript a day - or I may double that in one day, and add almost nothing the next day while spending just as much time "writing" as I did the day before.

I still work full time, so my writing time is 4-5 hours every evening, and 20+ hours on the weekend.

Yesterday I wrote 10,631 new words. Today I will do less than half that I suspect, but Saturday and Sunday will be very big days... editing in the morning and writing in the afternoon.
 

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1. I just started writing full time. I usually start writing around 1 p.m. (give or take -- I prefer running my errands when everyone else is at work, so sometimes it's later). I can't write early in the morning. It just doesn't work for me. I try to write five chapters a day. That's usually 10,000-12,000 words a day. Sometimes other things interrupt. For example, yesterday I wrote three chapters (6,200 words). My latest WIP came in early from my editor and I worked until 4 a.m. getting the manuscript ready for publication. That wasn't a normal day, though. Most of my chapters are 1,800 words to 2,600 words. I never stop in the middle of a chapter. I find it counterproductive. If I do, I have to reread everything I wrote the day before over again. It's just a time suck. I usually write in one session, but in an effort to get my house clean, I've started writing one chapter and then doing one cleaning task. It's usually not a long task, but it's something.

2. Money was my breakthrough. I've always loved writing, and I've always loved writing a lot. My productivity flew into overdrive when I started making a lot of money. I wish I could say it was for the art, but it's not. I'm a greedy little materialist.

3. You just have to do it. No excuses. When it snows, you still have to write. When your kids are sick, you still have to write. You have to find time. Sure, there are just some times where you have to make a hard decision. I do it every week. Yesterday, I let two chapters go so I could get my new book up before the weekend. When it comes to it, though, you still have to push through.
 

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YodaRead said:
1. I just started writing full time. I usually start writing around 1 p.m. (give or take -- I prefer running my errands when everyone else is at work, so sometimes it's later). I can't write early in the morning. It just doesn't work for me. I try to write five chapters a day. That's usually 10,000-12,000 words a day. Sometimes other things interrupt. For example, yesterday I wrote three chapters (6,200 words). My latest WIP came in early from my editor and I worked until 4 a.m. getting the manuscript ready for publication. That wasn't a normal day, though. Most of my chapters are 1,800 words to 2,600 words. I never stop in the middle of a chapter. I find it counterproductive. If I do, I have to reread everything I wrote the day before over again. It's just a time suck. I usually write in one session, but in an effort to get my house clean, I've started writing one chapter and then doing one cleaning task. It's usually not a long task, but it's something.

2. Money was my breakthrough. I've always loved writing, and I've always loved writing a lot. My productivity flew into overdrive when I started making a lot of money. I wish I could say it was for the art, but it's not. I'm a greedy little materialist.

3. You just have to do it. No excuses. When it snows, you still have to write. When your kids are sick, you still have to write. You have to find time. Sure, there are just some times where you have to make a hard decision. I do it every week. Yesterday, I let two chapters go so I could get my new book up before the weekend. When it comes to it, though, you still have to push through.
I'm full time too and I still don't know how people write that much in a day. 2 thousand words is a good day for me. I only do about two books a year. I don't think I'll ever increase beyond that output level. I don't really want to either. I typically start late as well, usually around noon, give or take. I'll typically work till 4 or so. Im spent at that point. Then it's off to the gym. I'm also trying to take in a movie a day. Love this job!
 

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JV said:
I'm full time too and I still don't know how people write that much in a day. 2 thousand words is a good day for me. I only do about two books a year. I don't think I'll ever increase beyond that output level. I don't really want to either. I typically start late as well, usually around noon, give or take. I'll typically work till 4 or so. Im spent at that point. Then it's off to the gym. I'm also trying to take in a movie a day. Love this job!
I write while watching television. It's background noise. Although, to be fair, if you really looked, you could tell what television series I'm burrowing my way through while writing by looking at the names of the inconsequential characters. I needed a throwaway cop while watching Criminal Minds? Enter Aaron Morgan. I need an undercover informant while watching Justified? Enter Ava Givens. I needed a prostitute do die to set off a mystery while watching Lost? Enter Kate Littlefield.
I can write 2,000 words in an hour. I self-edit as a I go. So, I schedule six hours for five chapters five days a week. Then I do busy work -- covers, blurbs, social media, CreateSpace setups, etc. I have no idea how many books I'll publish this year. The low end is twenty-two. The high end is thirty (not including the novellas I've added to my most popular series). I already have eight completed. By the end of February, it will be ten (although only three of them will have been published at that point).
We shall see what happens, especially when I start adding erotic shorts with earnest in February. My original goal was to hit $50,000 a month by the fall. I think I'll be early. I hope I'll be really early. Now? Back to work. I want to write one more chapter of my WIP before I go to bed.
 

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I write 4,000-6,000 per day. I've experimented with many wordcounts over the last year and for me that's a comfortable range.

My scenes tend to be in the 1,000-1,500 word region, so I basically shoot for four scenes/four writing sessions a day. I don't outline because contrary to popular opinion, outlining slows me down. That's not to say I'm not aware of structure - I keep Larry Brooks and Save the Cat by my desk at all times and check in with where I'm at and whether I'm on track with the general plot points every now and then. Much more fun for me.

I try to get everything done before lunch, but usually this spills over into early evening. I do business stuff in the afternoon, and spend at least an hour a day reading.

Breakthrough for me was realising how much time I was wasting beforehand, and how much I could actually get done if I put my mind to it. 2K to 10K and DWS articles helped.

If I don't hit my target, I have an incredible guilt mechanism that kicks in and practically forces me into the chair. Handy thing to develop.

Also, I write my drafts cleaner and cleaner every time. I messy-drafted my first couple on the advice of many seasoned pros and the revision process sucked the life and soul out of me, so I cut down on that by writing clean in the first place now.
 

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YodaRead said:
I write while watching television. It's background noise. Although, to be fair, if you really looked, you could tell what television series I'm burrowing my way through while writing by looking at the names of the inconsequential characters. I needed a throwaway cop while watching Criminal Minds? Enter Aaron Morgan. I need an undercover informant while watching Justified? Enter Ava Givens. I needed a prostitute do die to set off a mystery while watching Lost? Enter Kate Littlefield.
I can write 2,000 words in an hour. I self-edit as a I go. So, I schedule six hours for five chapters five days a week. Then I do busy work -- covers, blurbs, social media, CreateSpace setups, etc. I have no idea how many books I'll publish this year. The low end is twenty-two. The high end is thirty (not including the novellas I've added to my most popular series). I already have eight completed. By the end of February, it will be ten (although only three of them will have been published at that point).
We shall see what happens, especially when I start adding erotic shorts with earnest in February. My original goal was to hit $50,000 a month by the fall. I think I'll be early. I hope I'll be really early. Now? Back to work. I want to write one more chapter of my WIP before I go to bed.
I respect the work ethic. I was just doing a little night writing myself.
 

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Salvador Mercer said:
Brandon Sanderson, the fantasy genre writer who writes like 300 or 400k word novels actually blogged in an interview that he doesn't actually write very quickly but that he is CONSISTENT.
Consistency has been key for me. I write about 1000 words per hour, sometimes more, usually not less. When I'm in writing mode, I stick my hiney in my work space and write, period. I juggle projects, so if something isn't working on one WIP, I clear my head and sit back down with another project. Some days, I have to skip writing so I can work on editing/revision or getting a story published. On average, though, I write 5-6 days per week and spend around eight to ten hours per day on writing related activities.

One thing that helps me tremendously is setting concrete goals and breaking them down into working goals. This year, my concrete goal is to complete the first drafts of six novels, four under another pen name (about 80K words each) and two under this one (maybe 100K words each). I write by scenes rather than word count. (Stopping in the middle of a scene throws my whole process off.) My scenes average about 2K words each, so I set the goal of two scenes per writing day (about 4K words) and extrapolated to set monthly and quarterly goals. Even writing five days per week, that's about a million words written in a year, way more than I need to meet my concrete goals. Once I complete the projects I have scheduled, I'll work on others I have lined up. I fully expect to complete eight full-length novels (publication dates spread over 2015 and 2016) and several shorter works this year.

I'm a plotter-pantser hybrid. I work from plot points that are fairly loose, like "Main Character finds out xyz," and work out the exact details as I write or sometimes change them completely, if I have a better idea for the story's direction. 2K to 10K really helped me, simply because it forced me to think about the whens, wheres, and hows of my writing process. My best time to write is at the end of my day. Most of my writing gets done between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., though I usually only write for two hours before midnight and for two to four hours after. I sleep during the late mornings and early afternoons, and work on writing related things until supper (blog posts, e-mails, marketing, etc.). I do a lot of brainstorming between waking and getting up, during that quiet time when everybody thinks I'm still asleep. Some of my best ideas hit me then.

I also edit a little as I write. (I read and lightly edit the previous night's work right before I sit down to start writing each night, usually to clarify details and refresh my memory on where the story is.) The more I write, the cleaner my first drafts are. I will never be able to hit the word counts of, for example, YodaRead (awesome work production, by the way), but I'm very satisfied with my writing progress.
 
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1) I start around 9am. Sometimes earlier. Occasionally later. I set a chapter goal until lunch time. My chapters average 500 words, so I usually say I want to do 5 chapters by 1pm. I take an hour for lunch. Then I'll do another 3 chapters before I go out for exercise / business transactions. When I get home I'll write 4 more chapters in one fast session that won't be more than 2 hours. 12 chapters, 6000 words, done by 7pm at the latest.

2) From 2007 - 2008 I wrote 500 words a day. In 2009 I bumped it to 1000 on and off, and when I wrote that it felt enormous. In 2010 I attempted 2000 and achieved that consistently all the way through till last year. In 2014 I became less word count focused and more publication deadline focused. When the words didn't mean anything, I was able to write a tonne.

3) Don't put any chapter on a pedestal. Quantity over quality. Write the first thing you think of. Keep going with it. You might start off bad that way. But if you do it for long enough, your quality skills will start to catch up with your high production. After all, you're writing heaps now aren't you?

My most important mantra to productivity success: I should never be afraid of the words. THE WORDS SHOULD BE AFRAID OF ME
 

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I don't, I wish I did. I wish I had more time, that's the key for me. That's the area I need to tackle in my life. But I try to cram in a couple of hours late at night when the family have gone to bed. I need silence to write. Three year old boys try bash up the computer if you ignore them for longer than two minutes.

On the other hand, while my output is nothing compared to some of those in this thread, I think I do pretty well just using those hours late at night. Over three pen names I now have twenty seven books or short stories out.

I've been doing the 100 days of writing challenge and since it started on the 6th of this month I have clocked up 25,000 words so far. I'm pretty pleased with that.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Wow this is awesome everyone! Thanks for the insights.

Yeah, I've read 2K to 10K. I was hoping to get different approaches and opinions. It sounds like everyone's process is a little different.
 
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