Write 5,000 words per hour – that seems like a HUGE amount of words to get down on paper in a relatively SHORT amount of time.
Building up to 5,000 words per hour
But here was author Chris Fox, author of 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter talking about how he set up his daily super fast writing habits in a podcast interview with Write With Impact’s John Liebowitz.
I was intrigued. I zipped across to Amazon, saw that the book cost as little as my daily cup of coffee and downloaded it to my Kindle. Amazon describes the book as being an hour’s read. I settled down and I read.
It’s well worth investing an hour in this short book. Fox shares how he set up a system to train himself to write a minimum of 5,000 words per hour at each daily writing session. The book provides advice on organising your writing space, minimising distractions and just getting down to the job of putting words onto the page.
Daily writing sprints
He recommends what he calls ‘daily sprints’ where you put on a timer and … type. You start with micro sprints of ten minutes and slowly build up to an hour. The most important part is to track the number of words you write and the speed at which you type them. As Fox is an ex-coder, he’s designed an iPhone app to track word count or there’s a free excel sheet to download.
Cultivating writing flow
The benefits of his system, he explains, are that the timed writing sprints allow you to get into a writing flow where you don’t worry about typing errors, grammar or syntax. You also develop a regular writing habit – something you’ll always hear successful authors talk about during interviews. Here is how renowned children’s author Allan Ahlberg put it when talking to BBC Radio 4’s Books and Authors.
“Get up in the morning. Go to a room. Close the door. Pick up a pen and make a mark on the paper. And start from there and just follow your nose.”
Taking up the writing challenge
I therefore took up Fox’s challenge and sat down to write sprints most mornings for nearly a month. As I’m not writing a book (yet!), I started by writing about recent eventful months in my life: moving country and sending my last child off on a gap year. I found the daily writing sessions exhilarating, surprising and cathartic.
Streams of consciousness also formed part of my writing sessions – on days where I didn’t know what to write I just opened up a document and whatever flowed out was typed up. This is brilliant fun, and if you haven’t tried it yet, I definitely recommend it. I often to do a stream of consciousness micro sprint as a warm up before writing for work – like doing scales on the piano before playing a piece.
Picking up speed
As to typing speed, I think I was among the last generation to use typewriters at school before computers were introduced in the workplace. I was lucky to learn how to type on those clunky machines and have always been a fast, fairly accurate typist. On my fist three micro-sprints I averaged 2,964 words per hour – typed in 15-minute sprints – so I still need practice to get to 5,000 words. I’m not entirely sure my brain can work that fast, let alone my fingers!
If you’re looking for a bit of extra motivation to increase your writing output and push your typing speed, I highly recommend this short book. I guarantee you’ll be intrigued enough to test his system. Soon your ten-minute practice sessions will start to stretch to whatever time slots suit you.
And on days when the blank page feels threatening, set the timer and let just your words tumble out to conquer all that blankness.
I love what Chris Fox says at the end of his introduction:
“This system is all about incremental improvements. Start small and dream big.”
Fox is offering us a system; we can adapt it however we like to suit our writing needs, and, we get to marvel at our progress along the way. Maybe reaching 5,000 words in an hour is possible – I’m certainly going to keep trying!
Let me know how you get on if you do buy the book or if you’re already using his 5KWPH system.
Give me more!
After the writing phase comes the editing or rewriting phase. Find inspiration from master writer William Zinsser.