I Wrote Ten Thousand Words Today!

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Umm…no. I didn’t. Lots of times on Facebook and Twitter, I’ll see posts from authors who crow about how many words they wrote that day. And I’m happy for them. Really. I’m just not one of them. I never will be. Know why? Because my writing routine is very different.

I know writers get tons of advice about just putting dreck on the page and then going back to edit later. If that works for you, and you’re happy to finish a first draft with 200,000 words of dreck that will eventually be cleaned and polished to a 50,000 word manuscript, good for you. Everyone has to find their own process.

Personally, I can’t put dreck on a page and boast about it. I can’t move forward until what I’ve written previously is the best that I can make it. I’ve been known to stall on a chapter for days because one word or sentence is wrong, and I can’t continue the story until I figure out what word or phrase needs to be replaced.

But wait! There’s more. I don’t plot or outline first, either. (Egads. Hide the women and children!) I don’t want to know how my characters are going to get out of that quicksand until I need to pull them out. If I know the answers to all my questions too soon, I get bored, rush to finish the story, and wind up with an unsatisfactory ending. I can’t help it. I can’t keep a secret. Not from my family when it comes to their Christmas gifts, not from my readers when it comes to the Happily-Ever-Afters.

I don’t apologize for not writing 10,000 words in a day because that’s not my process. Here’s a typical writing stint for me:

I write a scene, mostly dialogue. Then I go in and layer that scene. I fix punctuation and spelling errors, double-check my research, add color and scenery and stage direction. Then I do it again, tweaking word choices, tightening my tendency to be too verbose, adding the pertinent info I’ve overlooked. And then, when I think that scene could go into a published work exactly as written, I’m ready to move onto the next scene and do it all over again. 

With a process like this, it’s no wonder I’m thrilled if I write 500 words in a day. The difference between me and the Dreck Writer who writes 10,000 words a day is, when I type The End, it really is The End. I can rest assured that the book needs one quick read-through to focus on story arc and continuity, and that baby is ready to fly. While my counterpart is stuck in revision hell, trying to decide if (s)he really needs to mention the curtains were green right before the house goes up in flames or if (s)he should cut the whole scene because (s)he’s gotta kill a few darlings to meet that word count.

I refuse to feel inadequate because someone’s boasting about writing 10,000 words today, when I’ve stared at the same sentence for a week trying to decide whether to use “cerulean” or “blue.” It’s part of who I am as a writer. And who I am as a writer likes writing the perfect words while having no idea where my characters are going whenever I sit down at that keyboard. Even if I never get to boast that I wrote ten thousand words in one day.

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About ginaarditoauthor

Writer, mother, wife, killer of innocent houseplants
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17 Responses to I Wrote Ten Thousand Words Today!

  1. jmichelemaurer says:

    And I thought I was the only one who stared at the same sentence for days! You mean I’m normal? *wink* A little while back, my hubby told me: Focus needs to be on the getting there, not by the speed of travel. I actually look at a sticky note with those words on it every morning before I head to work. I also, more often than not, have word find problems. Hubby’s words help remind me that it’s okay and that I’m closer today than I was yesterday. Hugs to you, Gina!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. stephaniequeen says:

    Yikes! I’ve always been fascinated by writing process and I hear tell that there’s people out there like you who write only one draft, but I’d always thought them in the category of unicorns.
    As for my writing process, I aspire to write 10k words in a day, but alas I’ve fallen short every time. I’ve written 5k in a day once or twice. Plotting and revising are part of my process. I used to find both evil and dreaded, but now I’m enjoying it all–guess I’m turning into a unicorn myself!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. susanrhughes says:

    I have a similar process to you, but I also do some revision and polishing. A mixture of styles, I guess.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Carol says:

    I have a mixture of routine also. Sometimes I outline and find I never go by the actual plot I had in mind, but a few lines in each chapter keeps me on track. Even those lines often change. I’ve written dreck twice. Never again. I still have both books hiding somewhere on my computer. Dreck is a nightmare to pull together.

    Liked by 4 people

    • ginaarditoauthor says:

      I remember having to write a proposal for a three-book series for one of my publishers. When I re-read the blurbs for each after all three were released, Book I (already written at the time of the proposal) was 100% spot on, Book II (halfway written) came close. Book III didn’t even have the same character names, much less the same outline I’d provided when I sold the series.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. E. Ayers says:

    I actually know someone who wrote 30,000 words in one day. For starters, she could type at the speed of light. And the story had been in her head for a while. She read through it once and sent it to her publisher. That was every unusual for her, but her hubby was away and the the house was quiet… I have two other friends who seem write extremely fast. One writes as many as 8 books a month, and the other will write 2-3 books. The gal who writes so many is really writing novelettes with an occasional one hitting the 20K mark. She’s good at it because she’s been doing it for years, and the genre in which she writes isn’t very picky about content, only the action. The other gal writes short novellas. Both of them have a strong following and they make lots of money.

    That’s not my style. I fight to put the right words down the first time and then struggle for ages over each scene, paragraph, and sentence. It takes me forever to write a 40K novella. My typing is slow and I guess my brain is too. My desire for perfection doesn’t want “dreck” the first time or in the finished product.Continuity as I segue between scenes or even actions within the scenes is important to me. So I read, reread, ponder, read it again… Okay, I’m slow.

    I can’t write fast. In a way, I envy those who can. But I also realize that their readers are not mine. And I don’t want to write what they write. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • ginaarditoauthor says:

      Very true, E. Some people do really well with that speedy writing thing. I’m not one of them. It seems you’re not either. Ever attempted NaNo? I did it once and wound up with about three well-written chapters when the end of the month rolled around.

      Liked by 2 people

      • E. Ayers says:

        Who has time for NaNo? LOL I’ve written all those words in a month but never for NaNo. The difference is I write full time. I’m not squeezing it in around family and career. My family is grown, I’m alone, and my career is writing. I spend most of my day either writing or doing things that concern my writing.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. LOL. Gina, and everyone, thanks for your post and comments. I do a little of each different way, but I tend to get it all down first, as quickly as I can, before it runs away! Maybe when I’ve been writing longer, I’ll gain the confidence to slow down. Unfortunately, as I tend to do most things in my life ‘fast’, I’m not sure that’ll ever happen, to my mother’s dismay. Fortunately or unfortunately, I tend to write…as Joanna Penn would say…’long’, so maybe it’s a good thing I tend to write somewhat quickly. Writing ‘long’ isn’t always a good thing, either…it should be interesting for all of you ladies to watch me attempt a 20-40 K story for the Christmas Boxed Set! 🙂 My friends are laughing already.
    For those of you reading this who write ‘fast’, take heart. Not all ‘dreck’ turns out badly, in the end, I’m pleased to say. Otherwise, I’d be in trouble!
    I’m pretty picky about the end result, though. 🙂 And that takes some time and effort, as does all writing. We just go about it different ways.
    And that’s a good thing.
    Have a wonderful day, all.
    Off to see a horse.
    xx
    Lizzi

    Liked by 3 people

  7. LOL… just caught that… killer of innocent house plants… 🙂
    xx
    L

    Liked by 3 people

  8. leighmorgan1 says:

    Process is process. Everyone should do what works for them. Word count is a tool, not a destination for me. I don’t think I’ve ever written 10,000 words in a day. Pretty sure if I did, more than half of them would be complete garbage. No one should disparage anyone for utilizing any process that works for them. Writing is hard enough. You should never apologize, Gina, for doing what works for you. To the critics I say, “Eat Cake!”

    Liked by 1 person

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