“2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love” is a famous and 4.5 star rated book by Rachel Aaron. She claims to write 10 000 words per day, which is the dream of every prolific author.
I have read her book between NaNoWriMo 2017 and Camp NaNoWriMo 2018, and I became obsessed with reaching the daily word count of 1,666 words. I wanted so much to complete a novel in 30 days.
I will be completely honest with you: I hit that goal of 1,666 words only because I forced myself to. I’ve been writing between 200-800 words a day for years and even though I sometimes write more, I generally write around 1k a day.
If you are like me and blamed yourself for not being as productive as Rachel Aaron, here are some things to consider:
ARE YOU A FULL TIME WRITER?
From what I have read in “2k to 10k”, Rachel Aaron is a full time writer. And this is already putting her at an advantaged place in comparison to all of us who have “real jobs” and must squeeze their writing in between work, chores, sleep, relationships and entertainment.
Even if you are a stay-at-home mom with little children who demand constant attention, it’s always better than sitting at the office from 9 am to 6 pm and being constantly watched by your supervisor.
When I was on scholarship in China, I had classes from 8 am to 12:30 pm, and after lunch I just wrote. I wrote much more than I had ever written before. But now I am back to work and my free time is very limited. The lack of time is the real reason why it’s so hard for most writers to reach such high word goals. Rachel Aaron herself states that TIME is what you need to write 4k words.
IS WRITING SO MUCH SUSTAINABLE?
Rachel Aaron claims to have written a novel in 12 days.
Maybe it’s possible. But personally, I really struggle to believe in it. It seems so implausible. At least from my own perspective. I mean, I don’t have anything against Rachel Aaron. On the other hand – I find this huge word count admirable. However, I have tried her method and it didn’t make me write more than I usually do. I am not questioning writing 10k words per day. I am questioning whether it’s right for everyone to put such a huge goal in front of themselves.
What I have noticed from my own experience as a writer is that all people have a reservoir of things to say and once they run out of what’s in that reservoir, they’ll have to wait until new things to say gather in there.
Imagine going out with your best friend in the early morning and talking, talking, talking all the time. It’s highly possible that in the evening you’ll already have the feeling that you’ve told them everything and there’s nothing more. The same is with novel writing.
This is the reason why so many people don’t succeed at NaNoWriMo. It’s very easy to run out of things to say, if you don’t refuel regularly. And very often, when your time is limited, you have to choose: either you write or you refuel. If you write without refueling, you’ll stumble onto writer’s block. If you refuel without writing, you’ll never have time to express all you want to say and you’ll miss great ideas because there’ll simply be too many of them.
Writing 10 000 words per day is extremely exhausting for your reservoir of things to say. After you’ve spit out those 10 000 words and there is nothing left to say… How do you write another 10 000 words on the next day and then another 10 000 words? Yes, it’s easier to write once you’ve researched and planned everything. But sometimes, especially if you write a lot in short periods of time, you start running out of words. What then?
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE TEXT QUALITY?
As you know already from the article on why we should stop freewriting, I always put quality over quantity. Writing so much per day is exhausting, and when you are exhausted, the quality of your work plummets, because your brain doesn’t have time to rest and replenish its resources. Maybe if we were forced to, and put in appropriate condition, we could write a book in 12 days. But would this book really be as good as it would be if we had spent more time on it? I mean, it is possible to spend years writing a mediocre book. And it’s possible to write an amazing book in just three months. However, 12 days just feels too short, at least to me. I would struggle. I’m not ashamed to admit it.
MONEY, POPULARITY AND THE PRESSURE
After you have been paid as an author and received positive reviews from readers, you feel validated as an author and others can’t blame you for putting writing first. It only seems natural that you write because it’s now your “real job”.
Think about it twice: if you were extremely popular and knew that readers will read, review and promote your novel anyways… Would you still worry so much about delivering a work that’s less than perfect? Probably not.
I have noticed that people who write their first books focus on quantity too much. They contemplate each sentence, and it takes them years to finish books. While more experienced writers need months. As they say, practice makes master.
Also, it is worth noting that each book is different, some are easy to write and others require a lot of research.
EACH WRITER HAS THEIR OWN CONTEXT
I personally find Rachel Aaron a successful person. Her bio states she’s married, has children, writes full time. Living a happy life obviously promotes being creative and inspired. I have even written about it before in here.
But what about those of us who are less lucky at the moment? What about those depressed, heartbroken and drinking writers who have to survive their reality first in order to be able to create other worlds?
The context of success is important, too.
AND THE FINAL MESSAGE?
Some people write 10k a day. Others write 5k a day. Others 2k a day. Others even less. It’s tempting to compare ourselves to someone else, but we have to resist and look at our own path. If we know we are already doing our best, we shouldn’t blame ourselves for not being as good as someone else is.
I believe in small, achievable goals. I believe in doing one’s best every single day. I believe in days of productivity that build big results over years.