Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How to Write 4,000 Words a Day

Some people see the number 4,000 and panic. Others look at it with a sly grin and begin clicking away at their keyboard. Whether you fall under the first group, or the second, it can be difficult to write 4,000 words a day.

This is not to say it's impossible. No matter what your schedule is, you can almost always find time to write. You might complain about how you have a full time job or you're a stay-at-home parent and cannot possibly find the time to include such a hefty chunk of writing into your schedule. However, I'm here to tell you it is possible.

I'm a stay-at-home mother who works as a freelance writer. I also manage to find time to write 4,000 words a day towards the novels I work on (Note that the 4,000 words a day does not include the amount that I write daily for my freelance contracts.). In no way am I trying to brag. In fact, I wish I could write more. But this seems to be the number that I'm stuck at. It's not a bad number, which is why I'm writing this blog post explaining how to write this much in a single day.

The key thing you have to do to make this work is create a schedule and stick with it. If you are one of those people who admire themselves for their unorganized ways, stop it. Being unorganized really isn't helping you get anywhere and it's kind of silly to brag about something that's not awesome. Brag about your kids or dog instead.

Obviously, you are going to have to make some sacrifices to make this work. Shaving an hour or two off of your sleep schedule is one way to cut corners. Eating while writing is another option. You can even keep a notepad in the bathroom and write when you're on the toilet or taking a bath. Hell, you can even skip shaving for a few months to save a little time while you're in the shower. I'm sure none of these options sound appealing, but if you want to become a writer you're going to have to work hard. Working hard requires sacrifices.

The way I manage to get 4,000 words in every day is pretty simple. I write 2,000 words, take a 1 hour break to surf the web or snack, then I write the remaining 2,000 words. This usually all happens from about 8 pm till around midnight. I write fairly fast, which helps me keep my writing schedule simple. While I'm writing, I avoid distractions. My son is already in bed by the time I work on my novel, so I don't have him to worry about. My husband is usually in bed as well. I also avoid the internet so that I'm not distracted by Facebook or Twitter. I don't have a phone, so that's not a problem. Basically, all I do is have my notes and Microsoft Word up during my writing time.

Make time. Find a time in the day that is best for you and involves the least amount of distraction. If you're kids are old enough to be left on their own for a bit, tell them you need some alone time to work. If you're friends and relatives constantly text you, tell them it will just have to wait until you're done writing. Tell them if it's an emergency  they can call. 
Ask for help. Don't be too afraid to ask for help. This has always been my greatest weakness. For the longest time, I felt like I had to be super mom, super wife, super writer. What I ended up with was being extremely stressed out, accomplishing very little writing, and I was always pissy with my husband and son. I will admit, I'm still not the greatest at this, but I do make a point to ask for help more often than I use to. I now ask my husband to help with chores so that I can write. Or I'll ask him to watch our son for a bit while I take a nap. As shocking as this may sound, he's actually more thrilled with helping me around the house than dealing with me when I'm pissy. Go figure.

Never leave your work hanging. Whatever you do, do not stop writing when the writing gets hard. I don't care if you've met your 4,000 word quote for the day. If the story is hung up, keep writing. Write until you're back on smooth turf. If you leave your writing at a massive road block, it's going to be that much harder to convince yourself to pick it back up the next day.

Have an outline. Before I begin writing, I have every chapter figured out. I have an in-depth outline written up and I try to stick with it. If I feel the story needs to take a different direction half-way in, I'll change things up. But for the most part, I stick with my original plan. This will help you when you're trying to write 4,000 words everyday.

Basically, the best advice I can give you for writing 4,000 words a day is to write and stick with it. Don't just write when you're feeling inspired. Writing is a job, it's a career, it's not something to do only when you feel like it. If you want to be a writer you must stick with it.

I'm not trying to tell you to take the pleasure out of writing. I still enjoy writing and will probably be writing till the day I die, and this is despite the fact that I write a bunch every day. Do I ever get sick of writing and want to take a break? Of course. Do I do what I want? Hell no. Because I know that in the end what I really want is to be a writer. To do this, I have to stick with writing, no matter how tired of it I may get.


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