Hey there! As you know, 100k words is no joke and the 100k challenge seeks to help you push the boundaries of what you think is possible.
I hope you’re ready to get started writing because we have a busy month ahead of us.
Maybe you’ve done NaNoWriMo or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you’re looking to challenge yourself to do something a little different?
If this sounds intriguing (Or even bat sh*t crazy!) then please keep reading.
First, you’re probably curious why on Earth I’d want to do this, but if you just want to skip to some handy tips, scroll down.
The short answer: because 50k has already been done. And while I’m certainly not the only person writing this much in a month, it’s much less common.
The long answer…
Once upon a time, I read Rachel Aaron’s book 2k to 10k. Before this I’d only heard of people like Johnny B. Truant (Sterling & Stone) doing 5,000 words in a day. More recently I read Chris Fox’s book 5,000 Words Per Hour, which is a useful book with a strategies to improve your writing productivity.
I’ll be honest. At first, I was very skeptical. I’d never heard of anyone writing that much. So, I read it with a critical eye. When Chris mentioned that he’d written as fast as 5,000 words per hour (WPH) and that he’d done so using dictation, and he demonstrated a knowledge level that proved he could do it, I was shocked.
Yet, the idea of speaking my book aloud into a computer or my phone sounded uncomfortable and awkward since I’m not a super chatty person. So, I put it off.
However, the strategies in Rachel’s and Chris’ books were super useful and I continued using them for my writing, which boosted my productivity and in 2016, I wrote and published over 280,000 words.
Fast forward to late 2016 and I became a member of a truly incredible writer’s group on Facebook launched by Michael Anderle, called 20Booksto50k. (For the story on the group and his writing career listen to his interview with A.C. Fuller, with Simon at RSP, or here at Author Biz.) In the group, I kept seeing threads where people were talking about dictation and how they had been able to hit major milestones in productivity. As someone who wants to become a full-time author, this intrigued me.
Not only that, but when I write my first draft, I like to get the words out as quick as possible to stay in the flow. Going slow kills my writing creativity. It feels like there’s a waterfall of words trying to squeeze through a pinhole and writing fast lets me open up the flood gates.
I love going slowly through a second draft and beautifying everything while I clean up typos and awkward sentences. Once I’ve put the sand in the sandbox, I can craft a castle.
The myth of writing slow to write better actually hurts writers. – Dean Wesley Smith, Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing: #2
All that writing was taking a toll on my body and I had this nagging problem. My arms would be sore and my fingers aching, especially after big days where I might hit 3,000+ words or the few summits I climbed where I hit over 6,000 words in a day. It was painful, but seemed manageable.
Until the occasional pain grew into a daily ache.
I knew that if I tried to simply power through, I’d end up with a serious problem that would not only tank my productivity, but possibly threaten my writing career. My mom developed carpal tunnel syndrome when I was young and I remember how much pain she was in. She had to wear a brace just to do simple things. I prefer to avoid that.
The Turning Point
Then one day in mid-January 2017, several things happened in quick succession.
I listened to an episode of The Author Biz podcast titled, “Using Dictation to Supercharge Your Writing Output.”
Someone posted about writing over 10,000 words in a day – in just a couple of hours – and I nearly lost my mind thinking about the possibilities. It had just taken me about a week to finish a 10k word story!
Could this be the key to the writing life I wanted? Would I be able to hit excellent word counts in a reasonable amount of time with enough daylight left over to spend time with my family and enjoy my life?
My curiosity grew.
At almost the same time, I saw a video by Garrett Robinson on his Vlog a Novel channel where he’d written 16k in one day. He seemed bushed, but the number blew me away.
And then I read an article by Dean Wesley Smith about excuses and self-sabotage. Basically, it pointed out how some of us probably are not as productive as we like to think we are. (If we’re being totally honest with ourselves without getting defensive.)
Dean broke it down and I realized that given the amount of free time I have (thanks to a fairly easy day job with low hours) I was basically patting myself on the back for not doing a whole lot.
“You say you are happy with your two 70,000-word books per year. Good for you. You have yourself convinced you are a hard-working writer. And all your family and friends are convinced because you have sold them a bill of goods…You type fiction at about 1,000 words per hour. So over the entire year you spend 140 hours for the two novels…That works out to about 390 words per day.
I’m betting you write e-mails longer than 390 words.”
Dean Wesley Smith, Excuses and the Fine Art of Self Sabotage
After reading Dean’s article, my jaw dropped and I said, “Damn.” He just mic dropped on me over the internet!
Because what he’d just said totally described me in 2015 and 2016.
Between my sore arms/hands, the kick in the ass from Dean, the Author Biz podcast episode, the motivation of the writers in 20Books, a desire to write faster to channel my creativity, and my goal of being a full-time author, I was like, “Game on!” and I decided to follow up on all the stuff I’d read and listened to about dictation. Within a few hours, after listening to the audiobook of Monica Leonelle’s Dictate Your Book, I made the decision to dive into dictation. Discomfort be damned!
After some research, I purchased Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium so that I could use the transcribe audio function, which is how I work.
Every year we get 4-weeks off for Chinese New Year and this year it began on January 13th. My wife and I celebrated our 1-year anniversary on the 15th, I started researching dictation on the 16th and I bought Dragon on January 17th.
Since I was off work, I had a lot of time to work and I ended up learning the software, which is simple to use, while writing 95,000+ words by the end of January. Yes, over 95k in 15-days. So, I knew that even when I went back to work, I could come close to that kind of productivity without a lot of extra effort or physical strain.
After returning to work, I finished February 2017 with over 119,000 words. My one day record is now over 14k and the pain is slowly subsiding from my arms.
Even though I missed my goal of 5,000 words per day, I am thrilled with the results. It just goes to show what we can do when we remove mental barriers and open up to trying something new. Consistency was also a major key to my success.
Between January and February, I’ve already written 76% of what I wrote in all of 2016.
It has been a real game changer for me.
Please Note: During all of the days that show 0 words, I was writing beats (which I don’t count toward my goal). And the revisions during the last couple of days are for a book I’m co-authoring with W.C. Hoffman.
This was by far the most I’ve ever written in a month and the most consistent I’ve written during normal work days (which started February 13th).
I used to only write a little on weekends and the bulk of my work was written during holidays. Now, I’m chipping away daily and the results…. Wow! My mind is blown.
The productivity I read about wasn’t boasting. It’s not a myth. I have a legit chance at breaking 1,000,000 words for 2017. We’ll see how the year goes, but I’m so excited and positive about the possibilities.
I will be tracking my monthly results on this page – The 100k Challenge – so feel free to check in and follow along.
How to Succeed at Writing 100k
I’m no expert at this. These are simply the things that helped me. Your results will vary.
I will update this list with tips I learn along the way.
- Free Your Mind – Realize that it is possible and even beneficial for you to write fast. Over time you will begin to get into a rhythm where words come out seemingly without effort and you’ll look back during the editing process and be blown away by the gems you wrote. Writing 100k (or more) is possible and won’t destroy your quality. Banish that limiting and destructive belief.
- Commit – You have to commit to the goal, your reasons for striving for it, and the time you’ll need to put into accomplishing it.
- Plan Ahead (Story) – I’m a plotter. So this step includes me writing a story goal, a list of cool scenes, and a rough outline that I then put into a spreadsheet to use for dictation. Panters, at the very least decide the basics of what you’re going to write. Pick your genre, a main character, and premise.
- Plan Ahead (Work Flow) – For a 30-day month, the target daily average is 3,334 words (Okay it’s 3,333.33!). Writing at 40 words per minute, it will take 1.39 hours. Less than 90-minutes of focused writing. Or if you average 1,000 words per hour, it’ll take just over 3 hours. Focus on keeping your momentum. Don’t edit, don’t revise, don’t over think things. This will destroy your ability to get in a groove and just rock out.
- Edit – Most people should wait until the end of the month to edit. However, if you can keep up your writing momentum, start your next book while you revise/edit the one you finished a little every night. Keep your focus on producing new work.
P.S. – If you accept the challenge, email me at the end of the month to report your results (whether or not you hit 100k). Contact me here.