5k Words in One Day

5k

Today I set a goal for myself: 5k words. All in one day. And just now I completed that goal. It’s a small goal in the grand scheme of things. But after reading a post about writing 10k in a day yesterday I felt inspired. I pursued my goal, and I’m ending my writing session today feeling satisfied. There was a time, about half way through, where I thought about stopping. That I wasn’t going to make it to 5k today, and I could always get to it tomorrow.

But that’s not how goals are reached! Don’t put it off for tomorrow. Do it today.

As promised, I wanted to talk about my writing today. Because for those of you who follow along with my writing, my usual goal is 1k a day. It’s a reasonable goal, and it’s usually one on a good day (without writer’s block) I can reach. But today I reached for 5k, and here’s why.

I started a new book today. I’m not going to reveal the title until December, but this new book has me excited. A lot of new ideas are stirring around in my head, and there’s still a lot more that I’m working out. But with the first draft it’s okay to not focus on everything at once. At least for me, sometimes I just figure out things as I go.

Someone on Instagram had mentioned they listened to The Crown soundtrack while writing. The Crown as in the Netflix show that if you’re not watching yet, go watch it! It’s an amazing show. But in all seriousness, I had forgotten what an impact soundtracks can have. I decided to listen to the soundtrack for the first time today, and I found one song (“Duck shoot”) that I placed on repeat for the entire time I wrote today. Maybe it was because I had seen the scene with this particular song in the show, but this song was so powerful today. It was just what I needed, and it honestly worked perfectly with everything I was writing today.

In total today I wrote for 4 hours and reached 5,105 words. Mind you the four hours were split up into smaller sections. The first hour or so I did this morning, and then the remainder of the time I did this evening (since hubby is at work).

So let’s talk about how you can reach 5k. Whether that be today, tomorrow, or next month. Set a date that you have free time to just focus solely on your writing. Make a small retreat out of it if you have to. Have a writing buddy join you. But here’s the most important things you’ll need to succeed:

  • Announce your intended goal –This is why social media is so great to have. Announce your goal is 5k today, and then have your friends and family hold you responsible for reaching it. Maybe check in now and then to update your progress. But just one simple announcement does the trick. It holds you responsible for reaching that goal.
  • Coffee –Or some other beverage to help you stay energized. Unless you’re one of those writers who gets 5k done fast, you might need a few hours to do this. Or you might need the whole day. But don’t lose hope! Drink your coffee, make another cup of tea, and keep on writing.
  • Break your goal into smaller sections –Hit 1k? Great, take a break! And continue this when you feel yourself getting distracted or feeling at a loss of words. 5k in a day can feel like a lot, and you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. Staying focused doesn’t mean driving yourself insane. Take some time to cuddle with your cat, eat a snack, and then get back to work.
  • Keep track of your time and word count –Again, I’m going to suggest the app “Wordly” if you don’t already have it. There’s other apps similar to it, but this is the only app I’ve ever used for my word count. I’ve been using it since the first draft of Clara and Claire and haven’t stopped since. It helps you stay accountable for the time you’re spending on your writing and who much you get done after each writing session. This also really helps with breaking up your sessions when you need to take a break. Just jot down when you stop and how many words you’re at, and then pick back up when you start again.
  • Music –music isn’t for everyone. The majority of the time I write in complete silence. But sometimes music (or some kind of inspiration) can really help you get into the mood. For me today it was The Crown soundtrack. Other times I’ve listened to rain and thunder soundtracks (because I’m weird like that). Find what works for you. Maybe listen to music during your breaks to get re-energized.
  • Other preparations –Notebooks, pen, post-its… Whatever you need for those moments when you have a “aha!” moment and need to write it down fast for later. Characters, dialog ideas, plot twists… anything relating to your book that you can’t write into it right now, write it down and save it for later
  • Write like you mean it! –This seems obvious, but seriously just write your heart out. Whether you’re writing on paper or typing, try not to think about grammar or sentence structure or plot holes. Just get the ideas out of your head and onto paper.

The worst thing you can do when you set a goal like this for yourself is get stuck in your head. And I’m guilty of doing this all the time. What if this is complete crap? Why isn’t this chapter longer? How can I make this scene more interesting? What if this book never sells? Why did I start writing in the first place? No, no, no. Get out of your head, and just go with your gut. I honestly feel like that works the best, especially when you’re just trying to get something written.

When you’re trying to get a book written, don’t worry about everything at the end for it to be ready for publication. Just focus on the here and now. You’d be surprised by how much you can accomplish.

I realize this has been a longer than usual post, so if you’ve made it this far I hope this post can help you with your future writing adventures. I was so overwhelmed with hitting that 5k marker tonight I’m eager to see what I can get done tomorrow. For now that’s all, and by the way…

4 more days until Clara and Claire release!!!!

Lindsey Richardson

 

 

The Roughest of Rough Drafts

rough drafts

A rough draft in a way is like a picture. It’s never perfect the first time you do it, and it’s not meant to be. Rough drafts are the most crucial parts of our craft. They shape the story, characters, and without you realizing it, they also shape you (the author). Last time I spoke about what it takes to begin writing your next story, but now I want to dive deeper into when you’re writing the rough draft.

The first moments your book comes to life is when you write the rough draft. It’s not meant to be easy, and if we go back to the metaphor about photographs, it’s going to take several attempts. Sometimes that rough draft gets rewritten three, four, etc more times. And sometimes it’s hard to see that this is normal. This is a part of our craft, and it’s necessary for our book to survive. Rough draft material has no place amongst book shelves, bookstores, and within reader’s hands. The rough draft is simply for you, the writer, and no one else. You might share it with others to allow them to see where the book has started, but overall this first step of bringing the book to life is only a step in the right direction. There’s still more steps awaiting you.

The honest truth about rough drafts is that they are rough in every way.

  • unfinished thoughts
  • lines or paragraphs for names/places/scenes you haven’t determined yet
  • incomplete backstory
  • choppy dialogue
  • weak beginning/ending
  • contradictions, spelling errors, confusion, unanswered questions

And that just lists just a few of what’s completely ordinary to have in your rough draft. That’s what you should expect and be okay with as you write through it. This is the first time your book is being written, and I cannot stress enough that you’re the only one equipped to write the story in your mind. So don’t be comparing yourself, worrying about the end product, or stressing about the future while you are working on this. This is eventually something you’ll look back on once you have the final version of your book and laugh (and maybe gasp too). It’s something that writers later on love to share glimpses of because we can’t believe we actually wrote that the first time around.

Oddly enough rough drafts even have the potential to bring out the best of your story. It might not be in there the first time around, but once you read it through greatness can come from it. New characters, a stronger plot, perhaps even a total twist (that you didn’t see coming [and neither will the readers]).

So go ahead and take the picture. It might seem blurry and unclear the first time. Go ahead and write that rough draft in whatever way you can best convey your ideas. It might seem unclear too, but the second time and third time you’re working on the next version of your book the focus will become clearer. The subject, the passion, and the hard work will all become clear with the more time you pour into it.

What’s a rough draft you remember most clearly writing? When you look back on it, what do you see and how much did the story change as time progressed? Leave your comments below; I can’t wait to hear from you. And if you have a suggestion on what you want to hear about next, let me know!

Lindsey Richardson