20 000 Word Essay

Writing 25,000 words in 8 days. Possible?

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posted about 9 years ago

So, I have to have 25000 words, which I'm guessing will be the size of this chapter, written by 3 June. I have all the research done, and I have the structure of the chapter, and I'm basically just going to 'search' on my computer when I get to each section and keying the subject/topic in and looking at all my research on that area and then writing it from that. I've just written a princely 154 words so far in 20minutes.:-)


It is more a creative exercise than a research one, about presenting my research well. I'm talking about writing 3000 words per day each day until next Wednesday night. Is it possible? How many words of PhD standard is the most you've written in a day or week?

I'm sort of buzzing now as I look at all my info and the only problem is what to leave out. But having a deadline will definitely help me, I think.

I'll keep a little daily diary here if I think of it!

posted
27-May-09, 08:38

edited about 24 seconds later

posted about 9 years ago

======= Date Modified 27 May 2009 08:53:36 =======
Hmm....that's a tall order and whether it is possible depends on how quickly you can assimilate your research notes. I tend to research and write together so I can't really say if it's possible to just write-up 3000 words a day, but I'm pretty sure it is. I do remember writing my Master's thesis (obviously not PhD quality) in 2/3 days from rough research notes. You'll simply have to glue your bum to your desk chair, and switch off all distractions.

You'll probably make lots of mistakes, so set an hour aside each day to re-read what you've written.

I'm actually attempting a similar feat of 15,000 words in two weeks, but with a lot of research unfinished.

Edit: just to add, why does it have to be 25,000 words?

posted
27-May-09, 09:35

edited about 17 seconds later

posted about 9 years ago

That is a lot, although I once did 2500 words in a day which isn't far off 3000 - don't know if I could do that for eight days straight though! I think if you even had the bones of your chapter done in the 8 days that would be great, is there some reason you have to hit the full count by June 2nd? If not then just focus on getting the chapter done you can try to add more words later!

posted
27-May-09, 09:41

posted about 9 years ago

That does sound like a lot. I have managed about 1500 a day before, but I was clear about what I was going to say. It can probably be done, working very concentrated and long hours.. but that kind of regime for eight days? No, not impossible, but it sounds extremely hard!!

posted
27-May-09, 09:45

edited about 12 seconds later

posted about 9 years ago

Personally, I can't do more than about 1000 words per day of PhD quality.  I know others that can do a lot more, so I suppose it could be possible depending on the individual. I always find that other things get in the way, like supervisor meetings and Cash In The Attic/Homes Under The Hammer, etc.  Best wishes though!

posted
27-May-09, 09:48

edited about 8 seconds later

posted about 9 years ago

2000 a day for a couple of weeks I'd say is perfectly achievable, if exhausting, if you're just writing up notes. To push it up to 3000 I think you need to separate your working day (which is obviously going to a pretty long one for the next 8 days!) into three sections of 1000 words, making sure you take proper breaks and get as much sleep as possible each night. Good luck - I don't envy you!!

posted about 9 years ago

Wow, that is quite some feat! If I'm on a roll I can normally manage around 2-3K a day, having said that, I wrote 1.5K yesterday and was worn out and everything I tried to write after that was utter rubbish - so I'd agree, you'd have to split it up and make sure you get good breaks in. I tend to splurge it all out then spend another week going back over it to edit and turn it in to English lol. I wrote the whole first draft for my MA dissertation in 8 days and that was 20K words so it is possible, but its exhausting. Hope you get it done ok :-) I thought I was hard done by having to get my board paper written and submitted by the 15th at around 10K words lol

posted
27-May-09, 12:18

edited about 11 seconds later

posted about 9 years ago

Aodhán - from your other posting it looks like you have to do this for your thesis resubmission. Of course you can do it! You have very clear goals set out. Write exactly to those goals and don't change anything else!!!

posted
27-May-09, 12:20

edited about 12 seconds later

posted about 9 years ago

Oh! and cancel EVERYTHING for 8 days. literally. Then, on the 3rd of June, hand it in and go to the nearest pub/cafe/shop and get a massive glass of wine/disgustingly chocolatey cake/crazy beautiful thing you don't need (or preferably all). Then go home and sleep for a couple of days. After that, the next phase of your life starts!

posted about 9 years ago

nice advice from A116!!! Sometimes I do approximately 2,000 words per day but again it depends on what I'm writing about.
Sometimes I become depressed and dont write anything for days.
Then miraculously I come out of this no-writing-no-working phase and then get back to it.
You'll be ok.
cheers satchi

posted
06-Sep-11, 21:33

edited about 28 seconds later

by CarriKP

posted about 7 years ago

Did you manage to reach your daily goal? I'm interested because I'm trying to finish a Master's diss with a fairly close deadline 8-) - I also have done the research.

posted
06-Sep-11, 23:23

edited about 6 seconds later

posted about 7 years ago

I remember reading this book (wish I could remember what the title was and the author... it was a book on PhD writing or research writing anyway) and the author was saying how she once reneted a log cabin and basically got everything written in 10 days cos she was just in the log cabin with no distractions whatsoever. Now that's great if you could afford to go off and rent a log cabin and you weren't worried about Jason or Leatherface coming after you but I think you can borrow her logic in the sense that try and find a setting in which you won't have distractions and tell your friends and family you've got to get this done so no distractions for 5-7 days and just sit there and get it done. Still sounds like a huge amount to try and get done and esp. if you're stressed but definitely a quiet environment, adopting a 9-5 approach and just sitting there and saying 'this has to be done' helps!
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As you read this 750-word essay, I’ll be taking a nap. Or relaxing on my sofa, eating bonbons and reading Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories. I’ll feel that I deserve these luxuries because, between November 1 and November 30, I will have written an entire novel. From scratch.

Every year, I participate in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, an online challenge for which one commits to writing a 50,000-word novel during November. If you complete the word count, which comes to about 200 pages, you “win” the challenge. [88 words]

How can such a novel, you ask, be any good? Mine is not good. Perhaps other writers are capable of writing a good novel in 30 days, but I’m not one of them. Back in November 2007, I wrote my very first NaNoWriMo novel in a spurt of coffee-fueled industry. That book, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace, will be published by William Morrow in February. Though it may sound impressive to say that I wrote it in 30 days, it’s more accurate to say that I wrote a very rough draft in 30 days. I finished the novel five years and 15 drafts later. [193 words]

NaNoWriMo, then, did not shave time off of the process of writing my novel. So why bother with this hectic November ritual at all? I’ll explain.

Many writers, myself included, suffer from a gnawing perfectionism that can, at its worst, torment us over the placement of a single comma. Forget completing a first draft; perfectionists have trouble completing even a paragraph. NaNoWriMo forces us to ignore our incapacitating inner critic and keep going. The genius of NaNoWriMo is that it obliges us to (temporarily) lower our standards. [280 words]

The program has other advantages as well. Every time I write a NaNoWriMo novel—and, as of December 1, I will have written six—I begin with a vague idea of a story and the people moving through it. As days pass, I complicate and deepen the plot, and, little by little, the characters become more real to me. By December 1, I have a draft that I can work with in the future. The prose sounds ugly, but I know I can improve it.

Back in 2007, for example, I began The Secret of the Nightingale Palace with a simple premise: a grandmother, Goldie, and her adult granddaughter, Anna, make a journey from New York to California to return a valuable collection of Japanese art to its former owner. Happily for me, Goldie emerged from my mind fully formed: 85 years old, stylish, evasive about her past, and unabashedly open with her opinions on everything from other people’s fashion choices to her granddaughter’s taste in men. Anna, by contrast, coalesced in my mind much more slowly. During that first NaNo­WriMo draft, I imagined her as a flustered, disaffected wife and mother. In the finished book, Anna is, instead, a 35-year-old childless widow who still wears a wedding ring because she can’t figure out when to finally take it off.

In my NaNoWriMo draft of the novel, many of the most important elements of the story came into focus. Those included the Japanese art collection, an Indian-American doctor who loves haiku, and a venerable San Francisco department store, where something bloody happens behind the tie counter. NaNoWriMo’s concentrated time frame, I discovered, creates a fertile realm for my imagination.

I should point out that NaNoWriMo has its drawbacks, too. The 50,000-word goal, for example, can make even the most succinct writers verbose. Why be satisfied with a prissy dog when you can have a tiny white prissy dog with a pink ribbon around her neck and add an additional nine words to your novel? In December, the first thing I do is cut. [623 words]

Also, the commitment to write an entire novel in a month means that you write when you’re exhausted, when you’re bored, and when you would not be able to find an ounce of inspiration even if your glorious career depended on it. At my lowest moments, I consider the whole thing a tedious slog, but I also value it as much as anything I do as a writer.

Which is why, next November 1, I’ll likely start a NaNoWriMo novel once again. Please don’t remind me of that now, though. Let me sit on the sofa with my bonbons and Berlin Stories, relishing the chance to immerse myself in the results of another writer’s strenuous and, I imagine, often tiresome effort. [743 words, to be exact.]

Author and journalist Dana Sachs’s The Secret of the Nightingale Palace will be published by Morrow in February.

A version of this article appeared in the 12/03/2012 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline: Doing 50,000 Words in 30 Days

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