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Binge Writing

Jonathan Clements  |  August 17, 2015

THE PUBLISHERS of my 2003 and 2009 books wanted the manuscripts quickly, so I wrote both books in roughly four months. My strategy: Bang out 1,000 words a day for the first 30 days or so, without paying much attention to the quality of the writing. I then spent the next three months checking facts and polishing the manuscript. In both cases, I was working a fulltime job while writing the books, so by the end of the four months I was pretty much wrecked.

Today, I started on another round of binge writing, though this one will be less onerous. The rest of the year looks jammed: I need to update the Jonathan Clements Money Guide for 2016, while teaching a college course on personal finance for the first time, putting out a few newsletters and delivering various freelance articles. I figure I won’t have much time for my other book project, How to Think About Money, which is currently half written. My goal: Get the other half drafted by the end of August. I reckon 1,000 words a day for 14 days should do the trick. I then plan to put the manuscript aside and return to it early in 2016.

The words I spew out over the next 14 days won’t be pretty and a lot rewriting will be required. Still, it’s a strategy I would recommend to other writers. By setting a goal of 1,000 words a day, you overcome the tendency to tinker and procrastinate. You quickly get a chance to view the whole book and see whether it truly hangs together. An added bonus: At the end of the binge writing, you know you have enough material for at least a half-decent book, which gets you past that initial anxiety.

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