The interlude to my 7 Day Setting Design Challenge the other day got me thinking about the concept of cheat days. You know, the idea that when you’re on a diet and trying to lose weight, you should set aside one day a week where you can eat anything you want. No foods are off limits, and portion control goes out the window. There are various explanations as to why this is a theoretically effective, from psychological effects to how the human metabolism functions.
This got me thinking about the idea of a writing cheat day. Yes, conventional wisdom says to write every day. The practical reality of being a freelancer and authorial entrepreneur requires writing every day. Yet for this high-volume challenge, it makes sense. If you follow the original formula, writing 42,000 words in 7 days is a feat that deserves a day off. To apply the learnings of this challenge to a normal writing routine, I think it would be a necessity. You’ll fry your brain and end up writing incomprehensible nonsense.
The A/B Writing Schedule is Born
What I’m considering doing after this challenge is over is switching to an A/B week schedule. During A week I’ll do daily word sprints, starting with a goal of 3 hours and 3,000 words on Monday, and increasing an hour and 1,000 words per day, up to 7 hours and 7,000 words on Friday. That’s 25 hours per week, 25,000 words per week, leaving time to do editing, layout, other business things. Saturday I will do my normal writing with my normal word count goal. Sunday I will take a day off.
On B week I’ll forgo word sprints, hold to my normal daily word count goal of 3,500 words per day, and write 3 to 4 hours per day. I’ll do that Monday through Saturday, so that’s 21,000 words over roughly 21 hours. Sunday I’ll take a day off.
By the end of a month I’ll have two A weeks, for a total of 57,000 words (25,000 from word sprints plus 3500 Saturday) and 42,000 from B weeks, for a total of 99,000 words per month. That’s slightly less than what I’m doing now, but it’s less stressful and gives me more time to do other things. It’s also based on a 40 hour week, and it’s been a long time since I’ve only worked 40 hours in a week. This seems like a good thing.
The Day 5 Results
With that said, things continue to go well on the challenge itself. Onward to Day 6!
Day 5 total: 7,202 words against a goal of 7,000
Week to Date total: 29,705 words against a goal of 25,000
That’s 4,705 words in the bank with two days to go.
Hours spent writing today: 7
Hours spent writing week to date: 25
You can read the rest of the entries in this series at this link.
Dean Wesley Smith’s book Writing a Novel in Seven Days: A Hands-On Example is available from Amazon in Kindle format and paperback editions. My book Setting Design for Writers and Roleplayers is available from DriveThruRPG in PDF, ebook, and Kindle formats.