April Challenge – Week 3 Recap – Write Slow


It’s hard to believe that there are only 10 days left in April, isn’t it?  Where does the time go?  What have I accomplished?  Why isn’t my book done yet?

This week of intense writing has taught me something extremely valuable, something for which I think I’ll be grateful for a long time to come. 

And that thing is pretty obvious (it’s in the title, people, come on).  Here it is: Write Slow.

Over the course of the last three weeks my writing speed has varied greatly: there have been hours where I’ve written 1,000 words, hours where I’ve written 1,500 words, or 500, or 250, or 100.  There have been hours where I’ve written a single sentence or a whole chapter.  But far and away my best writing has been (and I know this because I’ve gone back and re-read everything I’ve done during this challenge so far) when I’ve written slowly.

This goes against everything I’ve always thought or been taught about productivity, about the all important “Flow” of work.  When you’re in the “Flow” they said, the words will come pouring out and you’ll write 2,000 words in an hour and it will be beautiful.  What they didn’t say is that when you re-read those words it’ll look like you just vomited ABC Cheerios onto the page in random combinations.  It’ll be gross.

What I mean to say is that it’s important to be thoughtful in what we write, to include the details, the settings, the hard parts of dialogue that take us forever to think of.  When we’re writing fast, chances are we’re just trying to get from plot-point to plot-point, skipping out on the tiny details and nuances that make a book really great – that make a reader feel like they are actually in the story, and that that story is real and taking place in a real world just as detailed and nuanced and sometimes random as theirs.

So take a deep breath and slow down.  Craft the extra sentence.  Include the extra tough exchange of dialogue.  Take a moment to be creative – really creative – and add an extra, unique detail.  The sweet spot for me (because I work best in 30 minute chunks) has been about 250-400 words every 30 minutes.

Now this doesn’t have to have a lot of bearing on my April challenge – at 500-800 words an hour I can still hit my daily goal in 4-6 hours.  It’ll be harder, but it’ll make the writing better.

I’d encourage you all to try slowing down, too.  See where it takes you.

Now, onto the recap:

Day 15 – Saturday, April 15

  • See next day

Day 16 – Sunday, April 16

  • See next day

Day 17 – Monday, April 17

  • 8am: I have been tricked by an evil woman who stole the most important thing I have away from me: my attention and time.  She had the audacity to be born on April 16, 24 years ago, which is why I’m going to have to chalk Saturday and Sunday of this weekend up to a total loss, putting me in a big word count hole.  Of course I’m actually talking about my girlfriend, and we had a great weekend going to the Nats game, the Wizards game, spending both days outside enjoying the amazing weather, getting a strange April sunburn (she doesn’t burn, she freckles), and eating delicious food.  Still… so rude of her.
  • 8:05am: Because I missed Saturday and Sunday, I now have 21,000 words to write in five days, which puts my new word count goal at 4,200.  Challenge accepted.
  • 11:31am: 944.
  • 11:57am: 1,801.
  • 7pm: 3,750.  Close, but no cigar.

Day 18 – Tuesday, April 18

  • 8:30am: I’m hungry.
  • 10am: I’m going to the gym.
  • 11:45am: I’m hungry.
  • 3pm: 1,000 words.
  • 5pm: 2,000 words.
  • 6pm: 2,500 words.  I’m hungry
  • 11:10pm: 3,251 words.

Day 19 – Wednesday, April 19

  • 9am: Today is the day, people. 
  • 9:01am: We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist.
  • 9:02am: And should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice:
  • 9:03am: “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!”
  • 9:04am: Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!
  • 9:05am: Just spent five minutes watching the President’s speech from Independence Day (if you didn’t recognize it above).
  • 10pm: Caps and Wizards both won tonight – DC Rising.
  • 11:45pm: 3,189.

Day 20 – Thursday, April 20

  • 11pm: Shit, this is a really boring recap, isn’t it?  3,703.

Day 21 – Friday, April 21

  • 8am: Waking up early sucksssss.
  • 8:59am: But is also awesome.  677.
  • 12:30pm:  If green beans are called green beans, and black beans are called black beans, why aren’t pinto beans called brown beans?  Asking for a friend.
  • 3:15pm:  I’m writing on the roof.  It’s beautiful.  Bumblebees need to gtfo though.
  • 5:15pm: 2,650.
  • 6:45pm: 3,310.  I’m actually done for the day, because the Caps are playing in about 15 minutes, and then I’m meeting up with some friends afterward.  Had to focus on getting everything done early to make sure I hit the target.  Go Caps.  Maple Leafs suck.

On stepping up at the gym and quitting drinking

Do you all even care about this part?  I stepped up at the gym this week and didn’t drink (except a little bit on Saturday and Sunday, sorry).  Boom.

Biggest takeaway of the week: Do I have to say it a third time?  Write slow.  (I can’t wait for my mom to text me in about an hour: David, I found a mistake in your blog post.  It’s ‘Write slowly’, not ‘Write slow’).  Just let let me live my life, mom!

Total words written this week: 17,203.

Total words written in April: 63,040.

10 days left. 

What do you have left in the tank for April?  If you’re going to do something over the next ten days, what is it?  Be honest, how sick are you of hearing about the random stuff I think about on a daily basis?

Comment down below.

6 comments on “April Challenge – Week 3 Recap – Write Slow”

  1. Yes, some of the daily entries are boring, but they also remind us that we are not alone in our random thoughts, frustrations, distractions as we go through life. If we all put the entries down for our days, likely they would be rather similar.

    Hang in!

  2. Your diary is more interesting than you telling me how to write as really you are telling Yourself how to write as these are your mistakes! Writers come to the table in all manner of ways and have all manner of life experiences and the April challenge is your experience to alert you to what happens when you push yourself and how you find the balance. It’s interesting reading. Mine would probably show how I get into the ‘flow’ as once in I’m reluctant to leave and I care little for word counts just happy to have created something I am proud of. I produce my best works after becoming self-aware and I think this is bringing you away from the rules and into your own groove.
    Well done with your accomplishments and enjoy the slower more fruitful pace of working

    1. Thanks! I really appreciate it. It’s definitely been great finding my groove (just like you find your ‘flow’), and I’m super happy to have taken on this challenge.

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