5K Word Days

So a couple of posts ago, I mentioned something about 5K word days.  This year these have been my bread and butter in terms of organization and productivity.  I actually completed a “JaNoWriMo” (NaNoWriMo, except in January) challenge I had set for myself in essentially one week after being entirely unproductive the whole month.  Since then I’ve made an effort to do at least a couple of these days every month.

It used to be that I would write more when I was inspired.  This worked reasonably well for me during my college days, but since then I’ve found that I need more structure in order to remain focused.  Truth be told, though this can sometimes feel like a grind and doesn’t always carry the same lighthearted joy as writing when you’re inspired, I wish I had something like this during high school and college.  I probably would have been more productive.

Now I can’t take credit for creating this schedule, as it was given to me by a friend of a friend, but I’ve found it so helpful that I thought I would pass it along.  I should also note that I don’t use any of the food incentives or rewards, just the timing schedule.  But if giving yourself bonuses for doing work helps, then it’s a great added motivation.  Anyway, I hope this is helpful to at least some of you.  Are there any special methods that any of you use when you need to churn out some words?

7:45 – Eat breakfast, obtain coffee. Set up work space and open document.

8:00 – Go.  Goal by 8:30 – 500 words.

8:30 – If 500 is not met, work in a prompt from the prompt bank below.  Otherwise, prompt optional.

9:00 – Stop if past 1,000 words.  Get up, stretch out, go for Food Reward #1.  If not there, continue on until 1k is reached.

9:30 – Start again.  Goal by 10 – 1,500 words.

10:30 – Stop if past 2,000 words.  If not there, continue until 2k is reached.  Get up, stretch out, walk away.  Email, eat lunch, etc. etc.

1:00 – Go.  Goal by 1:30 – 2,500 words.

1:30 – If 2,500 is not met, work in a prompt from the prompt bank below.  Otherwise, prompt optional.

2:00 – Stop if past 3,000 words.  If not there, continue until 3k is reached.  Go for food reward #2.

2:20 – Go.  Goal by 3 – 3,750 words.

3:00 – If 3,750 is not met, work in a prompt from the prompt bank below.  Otherwise, prompt optional.

3:30 – Stop if past 4,300.  If not there, continue until 4.3k is reached.  Go get glass of alcohol. Consume.

4:00 – Go.  Goal by 4:30 – 4,800 words.

4:30 – If 4,800 is not met, work in a prompt from the prompt bank below.  Otherwise, prompt optional.

5:00 – Stop if past 5,000 words.  IF not there, continue until 5k is reached. Get up, stretch out, walk away.  Relax, get more alcohol, and food reward #3.


  • Itinerary

  • Comfortable work space

  • Phone out of reach – wait until the voicemail.  If it’s important, they’ll leave one.

  • Good alcohol, well-chilled.

  • Food rewards #1 (morning-ish appropriate), #2 (lighter fare, nothing that makes you sleepy!), and #3 (the favorite)

Little Prompts (A little slow)

Big Prompts (Totally stuck)

Someone looks out a window to avoid or spot something (or both).

Someone complains about the weather.

A sword or shield on display in someone’s home.


Girl scout cookies.

Daisy chains.


Church bells.



Bare feet.


Sunrise OR sunset.


Seedy hotel.

Duct tape.

A friendship bracelet.

Northern Star.

Start a new scene, in a new chapter.  Make it emotional.

Someone has a full on meltdown, with an audience.

A total black-out, no escape storm.

Throw someone out of a window.

Put Itunes on shuffle & use a line from the first song that pops up, either para-phrased or as a theme.

With one of the little prompts, go to http://writeordie.com/#Web+App and go to Kamikaze Mode, 10 minutes, 300 words.

A nasty fight with a clear winner.

An awkward conversation.

A previously unknown anniversary of some kind.

Blow up a closet.  Or a taxi.

Find an old diary.


3 thoughts on “5K Word Days

  1. One of these days, I’m going to actually follow through on an attempt at this. One day when someone agrees to hold the PS3 and Xbox cords hostage until 5k is met. My writing days have gone like this lately and ended in tragedy: write 3,000 words, reward self with junk food, make the mistake of re-reading those words and delete 1,000-1,500 of them, sulk about that with some TV for about 6 hours, feel guilty about all the Netflix, write another 1,000, drink until bedtime.

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