How To Write 10,000 Words Per Day
“The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Get.” — Not Thomas Jefferson
True Confessions: I’m a terrible writer.
Also True Confessions: I generated more than $1,000,000 in revenue last year as a solo-prenuer. All of it from words I wrote.
The 7 Figure Writer
There are two ways you can earn 7 figures as a writer:
#1. Be Andy Weir.
#2. Work Really, Really Hard.
I’m not Andy Weir. It took me 36 books in the same genre as him to sell 1/3 of his sales volume.
Between my science fiction, copywriting, and non-fiction work, I only earn $0.29 per word. It’s pathetic.
If I want to put bread on the table, I have to write hard and often. From 6am until 11pm Monday through most Saturdays. (And Facebook doesn’t count as writing just in case you were wondering…)
It isn’t the “Writer’s Life” you think it is, but I’m not going to complain about the paycheck.
Truth is, you can still make a very good living as a writer in 2015 if you are willing to put in the work.
Let me show you how.
10,000 Words Per Day In Just 5 Not So Easy Steps
Step #1. Plan
This isn’t an “outliner vs. pantser” argument. I’m neither.
I’m talking about having a purpose. For your business, for your client work, for your fiction. Whatever.
Some call it “writing with the end in mind”.
I call it not wasting time.
What is the ultimate goal for your writing? Big-picture and small.
Why are you writing that blog post? That sales letter? That fiction book? What’s it’s purpose? What’s the clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish?
I’m writing this post to build my Work Harder brand. It’s calculated. Measured. No word is written but to serve The Ultimate Goal. I know exactly what I must accomplish with these words.
“The Plan” is whatever it takes to put creative restraints on your writing. To give you guideposts for your thinking. To give you the “here’s-what-to-do-next” instructions for every time you sit down at the computer to type.
It can be an outline. It can be a content calendar. It can be a writing prompt. It just has to help you write towards something. Something you can stay motivated to write about.
It can be something you do once (like a content framework). Or it can be something you do every day like a 2-minute pre-writing outline.
Just figure out what you are trying to do before you try and do it.
Even the “writing into the dark” metaphor requires that you bring a torch lamp to light your way.
Step #2. Hoard Ideas
Your writing is only as good as the best idea you’ve stolen.
See how that works?
Steal, swipe, and hoard ideas from wherever you can find them. If you aren’t in a mad scramble to stuff your head with good ideas, then you aren’t doing it right.
I never watch TV without a notepad. Same with reading. Same with taking a shower.
I use a software program called Simpleology to capture ideas that sneak up on me throughout the day (it’s also a dang good productivity app). I write on my hand in permanent marker a lot too.
Art isn’t created in a vacuum. If you want to create something new you need raw materials to create it. Builders need wood and nails. Painters need canvas and acrylic. Writers need ideas.
The more ideas you have collected, the more willing your subconscious becomes to share them. The better your own ideas become. The more often those new ideas come to you.
“Effortless writing” comes from the sweat of idea hoarding. “Writing Flow” is simply the mind perging your idea tank to make room for more.
Fill your mind to overflowing with ideas. Set up a system, a routine, a habit of idea collection and you’ll increase daily word count just from that alone. Try it. It works.
Step #3. Write Hot
Best advice I ever heard about writing:
Writers aren’t constrained by time. — Dean Wesley Smith
In other words, you don’t have to write from the beginning. Your readers can’t tell the difference.
Example: I started this post by writing this line first. I then jumped around adding words until the post was finished. I added this sentence last before hitting publish.
Don’t work against your mind. Instead, when your subconscious is furiously trying to dump itself onto the page, let it. Don’t stand in its way. Go with the flow.
One of my favorite authors of all time — Ursula K. Le Guin — says writers are conduits. There’s something to that.
Technology can help.
The software itself doesn’t help me get words on the screen faster. I type almost as fast as I speak. What DNS does is free my mind to be honest. It removes one more layer of tension between thought and ink-on-the-screen.
DNS isn’t a requirement for such honesty of course. It just helps. Stephen King uses music. Margaret Atwood has a lucky charm. Some writers use drug & drink (not advocated for a long list of reasons).
You might use yoga. Or meditation. Or writing with the TV on. Or unhealthy amounts of Skittles and Mt. Dew. I don’t know.
If you haven’t identified the thing in your writing process that allows you to write hot, to write fast, and to maintain that speed for long then you haven’t really found your writing process at all.
Take the time to discover yourself enough to learn how to write honestly.
Then write as hard, and fast, and honestly as you can.
Step #4. Revise Cold
Being bi-polar helps in developing a writing career.
During the writing process, you must be open and honest with yourself. Love your words and thoughts enough to put them on the page.
But when it comes time for editing, you must hate your words. Destroy them. Question their existence at every step.
Treat a child with this same bi-polar attitude and you’ll be locked away. Develop a writing practice this way and you’ll earn a decent living.
Lately, I’ve been outsourcing this process more and more. It’s too hard to do it myself. At any stage of the process.
Yes, I have an editor and a proofreader for my longer works. But I’m also incorporating more Beta Reader input into my writing process as well (but only after the first draft is complete). I get faster feedback from my business partners. I listen to reader emails. I read reviews.
TV Land has been doing this for a long time. It’s part of the reason they can put out such quality storytelling in such a short frame of time. A team of writers crams into a small room, they pitch their best ideas and — if it’s a good room — they’ll tear each others’ ideas apart with cold impartial fervor.
The end result is Breaking Bad.
Having someone else do the cold revising for you will cut your writing time in half. Your work will be better. You’ll master the craft faster.
Having another mind (preferably your target audience’s mind) rip your work to shreds will provide more clarity for your writing.
More clarity in writing = faster writing. Clarity is a plan. Step #1 to writing 10,000 words per day is to have a plan.
Most importantly, you’ll discover what not to write next time. That alone is worth every penny your editor charges.
Step #5. Work Harder
This is the last step to 10,000 words per day.
For some of you this is disappointing. I haven’t said anything you didn’t already know.
There’s nothing new here.
And that’s the trick.
The difference between your 2,000 words per day and my 10,000 words per day is that I put in more hours following the advice you already know.
6am to 11pm 6 days per week. Minus family time, dinner, and my running schedule and you’re looking at 65+ hours of writing per week.
Not 65+ hours of Youtube videos.
Not 65+ hours of emails.
Not 65+ hours of reading.
65+ logged hours of writing. Putting words onto the screen.
I only average about 1,200 words per hour (on a good day). But over 65+ hours per week, that word count starts to really add up.
I write every day. Whether I feel like it or not. Especially when I don’t.
Today, I’ve already written 6,000 words. It’s not even 2pm yet.
Another True Confessions: I do cheat.
I only write about what I know.
Habits make it easier.
Motivation makes it possible.
This video says it all:
You can’t escape putting in the hours.
There is no shortcut. Nobody has figured out how to write 6,000 words per hour. At least, not anything you’d want to read.
If you want to write for a living, then write.
If you type slow, good. If you do a lot of revising. Good. Write more anyways.
The key is spending more time with your butt in the chair. That’s how you write 10,000 words per day. Outwork yourself.
Just Write More
You don’t have to write 10,000 words per day.
I don’t recommend it. Go outside. Get some fresh air. Locking yourself in a white-walled room and listening to yourself think all day has irreversible long-term side effects.
Insanity, depression, narcissism, anti-social behavior, back problems, “writer’s gut” etc. Science is still working on the long list.
But if you want to be a writer, then write more. That’s the whole point.
500 words more per day. 1,000 more. Whatever. I don’t care. It’s up to you.
You have a lot more within you that needs to be shared. Advice, stories, tactics. People want and need what you have to offer.
You’ve just been given the tools. Now do it.
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Published in Startups, Wanderlust, and Life Hacking