The Writing Marathon

So as you may or may not know, I’ve been at a writing marathon for the past week. Five days of 10K words per day, 10K steps per day. Or at least that was the goal. I finished the week with 48K words, as I had one shorter day as I had finished the novel I’d started. (Came in at 38K. A little short of the 40K I’d planned. Will have to go through it later and see if I can add anything.)

For me, the week was an absolute success. I had come into 2019 knowing that I would have a few months where I wouldn’t make my word count goal of 62.5K. I also knew that I would possibly be able to make it up with the writing marathon, and I was.

If I can keep to my goal for the rest of May and all of June, I’m going to keep my original annual word count goal of 750K. If I can’t, I’m going to lower my annual goal at the end of June. We’ll see.

I’ve done this sort of writing marathon four times now. Each time has been different.

Three of the four times, I was writing the last book either in a series or a trilogy. Those marathons were much more successful for me than when I was starting off a new book in a brand-new-to-me genre.

Each time, the writing process has been different.

The first time, I brainstormed the book while driving down to the marathon. I had touchstones that I knew I would need to visit while writing. But that was it. Every time I even tried to think about the novel, my brain shied away. I did not know what I was writing until I sat down to write.

The second time, I had a vague idea of where the book was ending. That was it. While I was writing, I would frequently open a new document and type in, “Okay, what happens next?” Then I would brainstorm for a while before switching over to the main doc and writing more.

The third time, for the brand-new-to-me book, I would spend part of the first hour of each day brainstorming what it was that I needed to write that morning, and would actually list all the points out.

This time, I ended up waking up early most every morning and thinking about the novel. I spent time figuring out the large, major points of what was going on. No fine details, just the big arcs. Would spend the day writing those points.

One of the things I learned during the first marathon was that I had a point, generally between 6-8000 words, where my brain went blank and I would need a really long break.

This happened to me for the first two days this time. I would write a lot in the morning, have a shortish lunch break around 1 PM, write until I reached 7500 words, then I’d need a 2+ hour break. I figure that’s a muscle that I could strengthen more.

But then I changed my routine. I was waking up hungry. I don’t eat breakfast. I just have a cup of black tea. So by 11 AM or so, I was starving.

I found that if I wrote some in the morning, then took an early, longish lunch break at 11 AM, I didn’t require a break at 7500 words or so. I would be able to write all the way through the afternoon, and finish my 10K words.

I figure that my average speed was generally around 1800 words per hour, though I hit 2000 words more than once. My fastest fiction hour was 2300. When I finished the novel and I switched over to non-fiction, I was moving faster, and hit 2500 words one hour, 2700 words another.

So yeah, this was a successful trip for me. Let me know if you have any questions about the mechanics of it, about the writing, or anything like that.

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