How to write 12,000 Words a Day: A Guest Post from Mark Tierno

Sounds like a title designed simply to grab attention right? But that’s the daily word count I average when working on one of my novels. To be technical, it’s 12,000-14,000 words the first day of a chapter, then day two I finish it up (around 5,000 words, done by Noon), each time editing at night what I wrote that day. Day three is a “Chapter Editing”, where I give it another once-over, spell-check, make sure the plot all hangs together, and outline the next chapter. The cycle starts up again with a new chapter the next day. I get two chapters a week done that way. Two chapters of really good storytelling.

Okay, so the main question. How does one keep that sort of pace? How does one put out that much? After all, this is writing, not simply typing. Any secretary can type a lot more than that, but to create as you go? Well, first you have to be working on something you love. In whichever genre that you love, for only when you do what you love can you ever do your best. Only then will you feel the enthusiasm, the excitement of looking forward to what comes next in your story. Some will say to write whatever the market is asking for, except that market can change before your book is out. Neither a leader nor a follower be, just walk your own course.

I would say next that discipline is also key, but when you are working on that which you love, then having to discipline yourself can never be a problem. You’ll find yourself working whenever you can. When all you can think about in your off-hours away from the keyboard is getting back to your book, then published or not, guess what — you’re an author.

Next, is the atmosphere. Besides making sure that no one’s going to interrupt you for a while, and the phone is turned off, I find that music helps keep me in focus; if the music stops then so do I, at least until some new CDs are put on. Movie soundtracks are my choice — think John Williams or James Horner. Something to stir the blood, get my adrenalin going. I avoid anything with lyrics, as that runs the risk of paying more attention to the words in the song instead of the words in my head. Music gives you something to focus on yet stay clear of the real world around you, and focus is the key. With my mind running through the next sentence, paragraph, and chapter all at once as well as a portion of my mind thinking in character for each of the characters in the story, focus is essential to maintaining a strong pace along with good quality work.

And that leads into one thing worth mentioning. If I’m typing Fast, that means I’m also typing Good. Quality and Quantity walk hand in hand with me; anyone who’s ever been in “the Zone” on something can testify to that. If my typing speed starts slowing down that means I’m distracted, which leads to errors and poor quality. Worry just about keeping your focus, on loving your story, and the rest will take care of itself.

If you’re curious about any more of my ramblings, then simply visit and see the epic.
-Mark Anthony Tierno

If you would like to submit a guest post on a writing topic, please email me.

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