How to Double Your Hourly Word Count Without Even Trying

Nov 30, 2013

So. For the first time EVAR (I know, I just used EVAR—I’m that excited), I have won NaNoWriMo! Woot woot, yee haw, and a little bit o’ squee!

And actually, I won it a week ago.

You see, there was a plan to go to the in-laws’ place for the entirety of Thanksgiving week. And because my in-laws are the fun kind, not the scary kind, I knew I wouldn’t get my daily 2,000 words in, and thus would not win NaNo. So last Thursday, kind of at the last minute, I decided I would write the final 15.5 thousand words before we left. That gave me three days. It was going to be my highest daily word count ever—I’ve only once breached 4k a day, and that was on the first day of NaNo this year.

On my best day, I can average a little over 1k an hour, which is not too shabby at all. But I have a toddler, a preschooler, a house that needs to be relatively liveable, and dietary restrictions that mean I have to cook pretty much from scratch and don’t have a lot of eat-out options. I knew there just weren’t enough hours in the day for me to achieve 5k a day unless I stayed up really, really late, but I figured three days of that wouldn’t kill me.

And then. I tried a new method. At least, new to me. Ya’ll are probably going to laugh at me and say, “Wait, you mean you’ve never done it before?” I did a timed word sprint. I set the timer on my phone for half an hour, and I had to keep my fingers typing the entire time.

My first half hour, I logged over 1k. That was DOUBLE my usual hourly count. I was thrilled, and did it again. In my first hour, I had 2.5 thousand words. Which meant my usual daily writing time of 2 hours would get me the 5k a day I needed to win NaNo.

And I did. In a series of half hour timed word sprints, I hammered out over 15,000 words, won NaNo, and finished a (very, very) rough draft of my fourth novel. It was a little mind-numbing, and some of those words are undoubtably not among my greatest. But I achieved my goals, discovered a new method, and I’m thrilled to death about it!

So, my friends, I hope your NaNo month or non-NaNo month and Thanksgiving Day or November 28th were all wonderful! And tell me, have you done timed word sprints before? What do you think about them?


Danielle Raye Zeissig said...

Good job! It's amazing how many words you can get down in such little time when you simply make that your goal. I logged about the same when I just kept typing:) Congrats on finishing early!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I do enjoy the timed word sprints, but I must confess, I can't keep them up. I use them mainly for breaking writer's block... or reaching tight deadlines like NaNo ;)
Congrats on completing NaNo!!!

Haneen Ibrahim said...

Wait, Shallee you mean you’ve never done it before? Come now that can't be true! O your so old :(
Loool! timing a word sprint is a method I learned from Susan Dennard, once I applied to my writing this year I experienced magnificent success, first I finished my first novel and now I won NaNoWriMo, I feel so good about my writing at this stage therefore I understand how you must feel.

J.L. Campbell said...

Congrats on winning NaNo. You've found a formula that can work for you, so you're set for those times when you're working with a deadline.

Kittie Howard said...

Big applause for you, Shallee. Great job! It's amazing how good stress can work wonders!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. I have some vacation time soon and would like to write in spurts because I want to write a draft from start to finish, fast, before I go back to work.

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