The 1,000-Word Writing Burst (Holly Schindler)

Time is one thing no writer has enough of. Ask any of us. Writers are to time like SUVs are to gas. We need it, we guzzle it, we consume it like nobody’s business—and no matter what we do, we always feel we’re low on the time tank, begging for more.

I’m no different; the more projects I juggle, the shorter the day seems. But “project” doesn’t necessarily just relate to my books, either. Right now, I’ve also taken on the task of helping my brother lose the pesky extra weight he put on when he was younger. Which means I’m now exercising twice as much—an hour and a half, sometimes two hours a day.

And—I’m still writing four to five thousand words a day.

Yeah—four to five thousand. With two hours less per day to play with.

Here’s how: I’m writing in 1,000-word bursts.

I get up, and before I even turn my computer on, I write 1,000 words with the aid of my AlphaSmart NEO (a low-tech little gadget that runs on AA-batteries and has zero Internet capabilities). Once my first 1,000 words are completed, I turn on my computer, answer emails, and do my social networking for the day.

Then it’s time for 1,000-word burst number two. At the 2,000-word point, it’s usually time to break for lunch. And a workout.

I work two more 1,000-word bursts into the afternoon (breaking in the middle to check email again, or to put together a blog post, or run an errand). After dinner (and another workout), if I’m not mush-brained, I sometimes manage one more 1,000 words.

I’ve learned to avoid my tendency to want to deal with all the daily stuff that clutters my desk first. I’m good at telling myself that if I get email and social networking out of the way, and go ahead and race to the store, then I’ll have the rest of the day to work. Only, invariably, by that time, it’s one in the afternoon. And the rest of the day is fading fast.

Using my word-burst technique, though, by one in the afternoon, I’ve hit 2,000-words, and have still had time to answers those emails as well…

Of course, my technique could be modified to fit your own goals: you could do 500-word or 200- word bursts. Point is, I’ve found that it helps immensely to break up a daily goal into smaller chunks…and to insist on maintaining a daily word count, regardless of what else happens to be on the desk at the same time.

(Below: me and my NEO...)


  1. I like this method, but the timing would never work for me as I have a demanding day (that often goes clear thru the evening) job. I think if I modify the word counts and adjust the times, I'll be able to accomplish something!

  2. Great method! Do you really type that fast???

  3. That's impressive! A good day for me is 1,000 words; a great day is 1,200.

  4. I love the way this method is allowing me to just plow through my first draft (not a fan of drafting)...And Jennifer, I actually do type that fast! I go through keyboards like marathon runners go through sneakers...I just sent another keyboard to the electronics graveyard last week!

  5. That is really impressive, Holly. Word count goals can be hard for me because I get too obsessed with the number rather than the words and the last time I did that, my story went off in the wrong direction that took a ton of time to fix. But I love the idea of "bursts," I just do time-bursts rather than word count bursts. Though I may be up for trying word counts again. Every book is different after all. And I have the same issue. If I don't start my day writing, but do all kinds of tasks first, I never get to the writing or am too exhausted to get to the writing.


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