I Wrote 10,000 Words Today, What Did You Do?

Hand Writing

When you set your mind on something, it’s amazing how far you’ll go to achieve it.  That’s the lesson I learned after almost seven hours of continuous writing.  By the time the day finished, I had written 10,084 words, finished a lot of blog posts and obtained a huge sense of accomplishment.

The Inspiration

The idea to write 10,000 words in one day happened spur of the moment.  The night before, I was staring at the 200 or so blog post ideas I have listed out on a Word document in my computer.  I write so many ideas down and never seem to use them – I felt like I should do something with them.

So I looked through them all and pulled out some really compelling ideas.  Eventually I had a short list of about 15 blog post titles.

Then I started to think up a challenge.  How long would it take me to finish them?  How many words can I really write?  Normally I can type 60-70 words per minute, but writing a blog post is slower because you have to think more carefully about what words to use.

I seem to write about 1000-1500 words an hour for a blog post.  That means I could probably get a lot of writing done if I just sat down and wrote nonstop.  What if I put in 7-8 hours of writing?  Could I write 10,000 words?

The Challenge was set.

On Writing 10,000 Words in One Day

Once I had set my goal, I resolved to see it through to the end.  I would not find an excuse to prevent me from doing it.  It was something I had to see if I could do.  Even if I failed, I wanted to know what my limits are.

I woke up the next morning, fresh and ready to go.  I had slept in later than normal, but not too late to discontinue my plan.  So I opened up my computer to pull up the first empty document, put on some music and started typing.

I knew that in order to be successful at this, I would need to take a five minute break for every hour of writing.  Getting to 10,000 words was an important goal for me, but it would do me no good if they were all terribly written.  Regular breaks would keep my mind nimble so all the words wouldn’t end up being trashed after finishing.

I also decided to keep a time log of how things progressed.  A set a timer to go off every hour and I would stop when it rang.  At that point, I would tally up the number of words I’d written, calculate what my words per minute was and any general thoughts about how things were progressing.

Here’s that time log:

The first two hours were difficult.  Sometimes I have trouble starting to write and the thought of how far I had to go was a little daunting.  One thing I found really surprising is that the hour with the least amount of words written was the first.

After the second hour I got very hungry so I took twenty minutes off to eat.  I had five more hours of writing to go at this point.

Hours three through five were surprisingly good.  In fact, the third hour was my most productive.  I expected to be mentally tired at this point, but I wasn’t.  In reality it was like I had just got a second wind during a long foot race.  I felt this giant burst of creative energy come out of nowhere.

If that was my second wind though, then I hit the wall sometime during hour six.  By hour seven, I had enough.  I stopped going 15 minutes before the timer went off.  My writing at that point wasn’t the greatest, but I think I can edit it to something much better.  So even then I won’t be throwing any of it away.

Setting Challenges

When I set this challenge, I had no way of knowing how well it would turn out.  I had never attempted to write for so long and for so many words in one sitting.  For all I knew I wouldn’t make it past hour three and much of the writing would be useless.

But I think that it’s important to set challenges like this.  It’s good to set the bar higher than where you normally go.  Those times when you push beyond your limits are when you most grow.

On the surface, my goal was to see if I could write 10,000 words in one day, but underneath that I had another goal: to see just how far I could push myself.

And I think that’s what is so valuable about setting challenges like this.  After my writing time was over, I had discovered what I was capable of doing and what my true potential is.  And really, that’s more important than all those words I wrote down.
photo credit: djking

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Comments

  1. Congratulations! That is quite an accomplishment. How does it feel to have 15 blog posts rough-draft done?

    Back in March I wrote a blog post a day (although I only posted 2 a week), and I loved the sense of freedom that came with knowing I had posts in the can. Blogging returned to being something I wanted to do, as opposed to “have” to do.

    I love the challenge behind your goal – testing limits. It’s amazing how deep into our comfort zone we can slip. I know for me, I can easily under estimate my abilities if I haven’t been testing them. How wonderful that you proved to yourself you could achieve the impressive feat.

    • It feels great to have all of those words down. Although it’s also weird because I’ve never had so many posts floating around my computer at the same time.

      I’m thinking about turning this challenge into something I regularly do. Maybe once a month just to clear out all those blog post ideas I accumulate. Although if I do it again, I’ll probably shorten it to 8000 just because it takes a really long time and my brain needs a day or two off the next day to relax.

      I would really love to get to the point of writing 2000 a day! I think I can do that. Maybe that will be my next challenge.

      But really it was all about testing my limits. It’s strange how often you can set a challenge like this for yourself that’s way above what you normally do and actually reach it. Makes me wonder what else I’m not performing as well in as I could be.

  2. That’s cool.
    I enrolled in NaNoWriMo this year and in about 2 deays I will reach 50k and have my forst novel completed :)

    Challenges are good for pushing you further and making you leave your comfort zone for accomplishing someting amazing!

    • Ani,

      I’ve never tried NaNoWriMo, but maybe next year I’ll give it a try. Now that I’ve written 10,000 words in a day I think I could write 50K in a month. I could even just do five days of 10,000 words. Although that would be probably make my head explode.

  3. Wow Steve, that’s amazing. What a wonderful reflection of your inner power.

    I have, on occasions done the same with meditation, vizualisation, not for a ten hour stint, but for three. And for someone who usually does ten-twenty minutes at a time…it seemed like a long road. And yes, the first hour was the longest, after that I became totally relaxed. It’s a cool experience. One I think I’ll repeat more frequently.

    Thanks for the idea. :-)

    Love Elle
    xoxo

    • Elle,

      Three hours of meditation would be hard. I think the longest I’ve done is 30 minutes. It’s interesting that your first hour was the hardest and after that you were relaxed. That fits closely to my 10,000 word day. The first hour was the tough part and hour three was the most productive. I’m glad you liked it and would do it again. I too have already been thinking about my next 10,000 word session.

  4. Congrats bud! I did something similar when I participated in the NaNoWriMo 2 years ago. I haven’t sat down and intentionally attempted to have a marathon of typing however, most weekends you can find me holed up in Starbucks pounding away at the keyboard of my laptop. When I go, I usually spend about 3 hours typing away. Granted… it’s usually school related, it feels good to be so productive.

    • Elle, I’ve been doing the same thing too. Over the past year, on many weekends you’d find me sitting in a Caribou typing furiously trying to write some school paper. Then after I finished there, I would turn to writing blog posts. That’s a lot of writing. Now that I’m in my last semester, I’m looking forward to putting all that energy into blog posts instead of dividing up some of that time with school paperwork.

  5. I am impressed. What an accomplishment! You can think of writing a book. I like to set days free for writing but I don’t think I have come close to 10,000 words in one. I may just put myself up for the same challenge sometime soon. Thanks for the inspiration, Steve!

    • Evelyn, you should do it. What I really loved about the experience was how many ideas I could actually get written down. I’m swamped with them now. It does feel like you got a lot done and accomplished.

  6. 10k in one day? That’s awesome. That’s 5 to 10x what I usually manage!

    It seems you’re a highly goal-directed sort of guy.

    • Hey Amit, I definitely a goal-directed sort of guy. Creating challenges like this is a way to keep myself on my toes. Makes me realize what I’m capable of doing. One thing I’ve noticed is that you can always surprise yourself on how far you can push yourself if you just set the bar high.

  7. LOL Steve,

    YOu have officially motivated me. I’ve been floundering around dilly dallying with my writing. I have a spreadsheet of over 500 ideas for blog posts and then i have my travel book i’m writing but i keep getting off course with all these side projects. I’m annoyed.

    I think your tactic of writing down your progress everyhour helped you stay the course. It no only helped you manage your progress but measure it as well. Super essential for goal setting.

    I’m going to try this experiment tomorrow. 10K words. Maybe not. But I’ll try for 4,000.

    • Hey Annie,

      I’m glad I motivated you. Even 4000 is a lot. Looking back on it, I think 4000-5000 is a good number to shoot for. Honestly 10,000 words was difficult and I had to take a few days off writing just to let my head cool down a bit.

      So wow, you have 500 blog post ideas? You beat my list; that is a lot. You could probably knock a few of those out. Just think of how much writing you could get done if you regularly did 4000 word days.

      I’ve been thinking about doing a huge writing day (4000-5000 words) once every two weeks or once a month. It’s just incredible how much you can get written on days like that.

  8. Hey Steve,

    well done my friend. So what did you do with the 10,000 words?

    I wasn’t quite sure whether you meant these were blog posts – i.e. even though you wrote 10,000 words they weren’t all one thing – or you took the blog post ideas you had and made them something which was 10,000 words long.

    Either way, like you say, it;s good to know when you set your mind to something you can achieve it.

    I do something similar, not just with writing but anything – e.g. house renovation or learning – I know you can get through an AMAZING amount in a day when you put your mind to it and focus – and once you know that, it only leads to more possibilities,

    take care & best wishes for a great XMas,
    Alan

    • Hey Allan,

      I worked on blog posts. By the end of it, I had written enough for about 7-8 full posts and a few others were partially completed. I’ve published a few on this site and sent a few off as guest posts. There are others that I haven’t done anything with yet since they still need to be edited and polished, but I’ll eventually get to them.

      Steve

  9. I’m doing same thing tomorrow. For my dissertation. I left to the very last minute but still want to do a decent job. For that I need to finish it couple of days before deadline and have it edited and reference etc. Tomorrow is the day. I know what I’m doing more or less so let’s see if I can do it.

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