In January 2021, I set myself the challenge of writing 5,000 words a day until I finished my next book, Hollywood Destiny.
A couple of weeks ago, that book went live. And it was one of my most preordered books since last August!
Reviews for it have been great, too. Readers have said things like:
Kristina Adams has created another brilliant book with so much feeling. The ups and downs are brutal, but they change the characters in a meaningful way. Their struggles feel so realistic, and you will come to care for both of these characters.– Cassie
Kristina brings real life problems that some people can relate to or puts situations into perspective for others. As always I could not put this book down and kept it wanting to know what was going to happen to our main characters Tate and Jack.– Sarah
My readers are so lovely 😍
So, if you’ve ever wondered if writing faster means your book is of a lesser quality, I think those reviews go a long way to saying it doesn’t matter how fast you write your book. What matters is that you have the skills necessary to do it.
And the more you write, the faster you’ll naturally get.
I wouldn’t recommend writing 5,000 words a day for everyone, for reasons we’ll explore in this blog post. That being said, a lot can be learned from doing so.
I also discussed my process of writing 5,000 words a day with Ellie on our podcast episode, Lessons from Writing 5,000 Words a Day.
It can be painful
I won’t lie, by the end of the week or so I wrote this much, my hands were painful. They’re the most painful part of my body anyway, except for my hips, so hammering away at a keyboard for 90 or so minutes a day was a challenge.
There were a couple of solutions I could’ve chosen. The first was dictation. I find that clunky when writing something so dialogue heavy, though, so I used dictation for planning non-fiction to give my hands a break.
The other option was to hit my world goal in a couple of chunks instead of just one. I almost did this, and if I’d kept writing a couple more days, I probably would have.
The downside to this was that I really got into the zone writing 5,000 words a day. I was hyper-focused and really enjoyed that feeling. Splitting it up into two or three chunks would’ve meant losing out on that feeling.
But the more I chased those 5,000 words, the harder it got. Spacing it out throughout the day may have given me more headspace and made it easier on those more challenging days. Or it could’ve meant I stopped completely. It’s hard to say.
It’s not for everyone
Some people write slowly.
Some people have short attention spans.
These things can be improved on, but if you’re trying to build those skills, aiming to write 5,000 words a day probably isn’t for you.
It’s a hell of an undertaking, and if you’re not already a fast writer, aiming for something shorter, or focusing on how you spend your writing time, might be a better way for you to go.
It builds your confidence
When I challenged myself to write 5,000 words a day, I was in a bit of a lull. So writing 5,000 words a day really built my confidence back up. It showed me what I was capable of if I really put my mind to it.
I won’t be aiming to write 5,000 words a day on another project any time soon, but that’s because I have some editing to do first. So, I’ll be writing slowly in the background, aiming for 1,000 words a day while editing a book of a different genre and working on client content.
5,000 words a day is much less intimidating if it’s your main focus. If you have a gazillion other things to do in that time frame, it’s intimidating and can be off-putting.
Important tips if you want to write faster
If you spend your writing time just writing, with your head down and maybe headphones on, you’ll hit that word count much faster.
The more you split your focus, the longer it’ll take you to get there, and the less happy you’ll be with what you’ve written when you come to edit it.
Multitasking is awful for our brain. It’s just not designed to flit from one task to another. When you make it do this, it’s more likely to make mistakes. When you give something your full focus, you’re more likely to notice things.
Carve out your time
Give yourself a set time to write your 5,000 words. It could be first thing, after work, or even right before bed. Find the time that works for you based on your cycle.
Make it clear to those around you that your writing time is sacred, and you shouldn’t be disturbed in that time unless the house is on fire or someone needs hospital treatment.
You may need to reinforce this boundary a few times until they listen, but you’ll never hit your 5,000 words if people keep interrupting you, and your writing time will never be sacred if you let them.
How fast can you type?
How long can you focus for?
The answers to these questions are important when setting yourself writing challenges.
You need to have a vague idea of how long it will take you so that you have enough time to hit your word count that day.
There’s no shame in reducing your target word count because you don’t have long enough in your schedule to write 5,000 words a day, or you’re not yet fast enough to type as quickly as you need to.
I know I say this a lot, but if you edit as you write, you’ll write slower and your confidence will be lower.
Writing and editing are different skills, so if you do them at the same time, it’s basically multitasking.
You lose your confidence in both skills and you second guess all your ideas before they’ve had time to mature. And before you’ve had time to build emotional distance from them.
Emotional distance is key to being able to effectively judge your writing and how good it is. Don’t judge anything until you’re done!
(Stay tuned for an upcoming podcast episode on this in the next couple of weeks!)
Free writing is an amazing tool, and it’s key to being able to write faster.
Free writing means you write without filter or censor. It’s the most important part of writing quickly, because you just can’t write fast if you’re judging everything you put onto the page right away.
Accept when you’re done
My original aim was to write 5,000 words a day until I hit 50,000 words on my first draft.
But I knew when I got to around 37,000 words that I had a complete first draft. I couldn’t write anything else without going back through what I already had.
Instead of forcing myself to keep going, I stopped and let Hollywood Destiny stew for a little while.
That way, I had the emotional distance to go back to it and add in the other ~30,000 words.
Most of my books double in length during edits, as my first draft is me getting the idea out of my head. I add in all the depth, description, and slower scenes, and piece it together like a jigsaw in later drafts.
You may find you overwrite and cut a bunch out during edits. Everyone’s process is different, and you need to do what works for you.
It’s a case of trial, error, and a willingness to experiment that will get you to your end goal. And also remembering that, no matter how long you’ve been doing this for, every book is different and therefore requires a different process. Some books will be faster to write than others. And that’s OK. What matters is that you’re working towards your goal.