How I Wrote 10,000 Words in a Weekend

I've mentioned before how I wrote the final 10,000-ish words of my rough draft over the course of a weekend, something heretofore unheard of for me. I'm still a little disbelieving that it actually happened, but I have the printed pages to prove it! As I'm getting back into editing them this week, I want to share with you how I managed to do this, in hopes it'll help you bust through that unbelievably obnoxious end bit that seems to drag on forever and ever.

Step 1: Declare your intentions

If you tend to keep your writing relatively private, you can take this step by writing your intention on a bright flashcard or piece of paper and sticking it up somewhere you'll see it constantly: "This weekend, I'm going to write 'X' words" or "This weekend, I'm going to barrel through my list of remaining scenes."

I'm a relatively solitary writer, but I do have a few people who are always in my corner, and I was lucky enough to befriend a fellow writer on Twitter just when I was starting to think of taking this on. I tweeted in conversation to her about what, to me, was a crazy idea: racing through the final words of my WIP by the end of the weekend (it was Friday at the time).

"I vote YES!!" said my friend, who also encouraged me to reward myself along the way, having done similar marathons herself.

And so I did! I declared my intentions on Twitter and to my steadfast cheerleaders, and off I went. Well, almost ...

Step 2: Proactively remove obstacles

While I love a bit of cozy clutter, there is a tipping point, especially when I know I'm going to be mussing up my writing area anew with mugs of rooibos tea and peanut butter cup wrappers and empty plates.

Before you settle in for the weekend, spend a little time cleaning up your workspace. For bonus points, run to the store and ensure you have fun supplies (tea bags are a big one for me).

Oh, and if your computer is as persnickety as mine is about doing updates and doing them NOW, or else it will slow to a crawl, do the updates before you start. The less ways we have to lose momentum, the better.

Step 3: Make a list (or two)

I work best with music piped in through my headphones. If this appeals, queue up whatever music inspires you and have it ready to go.

Along with a music playlist, the second type of list that made a tremendous difference for me was one listing scenes that still needed to be written. Depending on how much of a planner you are, you may already have something like this, or maybe you're just going to wing it. I find it helps to have at least a line or two written to summarize each of the scenes beforehand.

And the satisfaction you get from crossing the scenes off your list as you go? Priceless.

Step 4: Work in sprints

Tempting as it may be to motor through without pause, this does not necessarily a successful writing weekend make. We need the occasional break to rest and refuel, to stretch, to make a fresh pot of tea or look out the window.

It feels scary to step away, I know, but your story isn't going anywhere. Finish your thought, then get away from your desk for a few minutes. Upon your return, your imagination might even have a little treasure there, just waiting to be unwrapped!

Step 5: Don't think too hard

The biggest anvil to fall on your head and derail your writing may be your own self-doubt: "What if the ending sucks? What if the whole thing stinks? I don't know what I'm doing! I don't know why I ever thought I should write a book."

Right here, right now, commit to just keep writing. When you're writing in sprints, you don't give yourself time to think, and that's crucial. When you fade, take a break. Do something energizing and awesome in those mini-breaks so you don't have a chance to get too thinky.

When you're writing, the list of scenes from Step 3 comes in handy: focus on the one you're writing until it's done, cross it off (and celebrate!), and move on to the next one, then the next.

One scene, one paragraph, one sentence, one moment at a time. This is how we write. This is what it takes.

Step 6: Celebrate your awesomeness

When you've written the 9,967th word and crossed off the last scene, before doing anything else, drop down a few lines and write "THE END" in big, bold letters. Let it sink in. You made it!

Taking a rough draft to the finish line is a remarkable feat. Gather your cheerleaders, bake cupcakes, do a little dance; whatever you want to do, do it! You deserve it.

Bonus mission: Be ready for the aftermath

Like anything that you pour your heart and soul into, especially in such a concentrated period of time, this writing adventure may leave you both euphoric and ragged. You might feel a bit of a letdown, like you're not sure what to do with yourself. Your everyday routine awaits, and you're reluctant to go back to the status quo.

The Rest of Your Life will seep back in, there's no getting around it, but there is joy and peace in embracing the mundane moments, too! We can even start a new story, or pull out an embroidery project, or work on a scrapbook. Something creative to sink our teeth into while this story rests.

In the meantime, have a bit of rest yourself. You've earned it!

(Psst! If you're antsy to get writing but are still a little unsure about this 10,000 words in a weekend stuff, check out Rachel Aaron's post on how she went from writing 2,000 to 10,000 words a day - your productivity will soar! Janna Kaixer also has a brilliant post on writing 10,000 words in a day, with some great tips about setting yourself up for success.)