What I Learned from My First 10K Day

By guest blogger Taryn Blake

I SIGNED UP for my first 10K Day in June because I’d been trying for months to write content for a website I want to launch—but I’d been having zero luck getting past the stage of scribbling random notes here, there, and everywhere.

At the end of the day I had written 3,005 words, which was more than I had accomplished in ages. Even better, I had learned quite a few things about how I work. I hope my experience will help you with your own 10K Day.

What Worked

Discussing the 10K Day with my husband well beforehand and getting his support

He scheduled a guys’ day, and they had a great time seeing a movie while I wrote in a quiet house.

Doing a good bit of brainstorming and organizing in advance

I knew when I signed up that I wanted to work on site content. If I’d started the day with only that general direction, I don’t think it would have gone very well. Fortunately, I’m taking a creative planning class and had looked through all of my notebooks and random sticky notes, pulled out ideas for posts, and started organizing the ideas. That gave me lots to choose from when I sat down at the computer.

Waking up without an alarm

I didn’t want to fight the sleep monster all day, so I decided to let myself sleep as long as I needed. I got tired during the day, as I expected to, but I wasn’t sleepy.

Starting the day by typing my list of potential post topics into a single document

and then entering my brainstorming under the proper headings. This meant I could switch topics very quickly just by scrolling—no need to juggle multiple open documents. When a particular post idea seems sufficiently developed, I’ll simply copy/paste it into a separate document for editing.

Putting the cat to bed on my pillow

Early in the day, he kept jumping in my lap, walking across the keyboard, you know, being a cat. I took him to the bedroom, deposited him on my pillow, and didn’t hear from him again until he was ready for dinner. This miracle may not work every time, but it’s certainly worth trying every time.

What I’d like to do differently next time

I need to do a better job of keeping my energy level up

I especially need to think in advance about my sustenance for the day. This time, I woke up around 8:00 and realized I hadn’t done anything about food. The results of this oversight were dill pickle-flavored potato chips, flavored Wheat Thins, a box of Reese’s Pieces, and two 20 oz Dr. Peppers picked up at Target while mentally scolding myself for not thinking ahead about nutrition. Not good.

Make sure I have healthier food on hand

I know I like having plenty of options, and I know better than to experiment on myself when I’m trying to get a lot of work done. Therefore, I’ve limited my list to things I already know I like: scrambled eggs with cheese and veggies for breakfast; choices of chai, juice, and bottled water to drink; choices of Greek yogurt, baked chips and salsa, popcorn, and falafel for snacks; and red beans and rice for lunch. I’ll either ask my husband to take care of dinner or put chicken breasts and salsa in the slow cooker for chicken tacos.

Get a work break timer for my computer and schedule my breaks instead of winging them

When I’ve had more practice tuning into my body’s needs, winging it might work. Clearly, I’m not there yet. I didn’t notice that I needed a break until it was well past time for one. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep any sort of record of when I took breaks, so in July I’ll begin with a schedule of work for 50, break for 10 and adjust as needed from there.

Editor’s note: If you pair regular updates on the 10K Day check-in page with your breaks, it’s easier to remember both. We recommend at least every two hours.

Have a writing costume

The site I’m working on has a costume party theme, so it’s only appropriate! Costumes make most things more fun for me, and once my brain has learned to associate a particular costume with writing, I hope it will help the inspiration flow.

Use the desktop computer for music

rather than the television so I can keep my Shiva Nata DVD set up for breaks.

Other ideas for improving my experience

I know I won’t get to all of these in time for the July 10K, but I should have time for some. I’ll check them all off my list eventually.

Reread the Recommended Prep page in the 10K Day section of this site.

Reread Tori Deaux’s post, Planning the Plan: NaNoWriMo as a Case Study, and work out my own version.

Get a playlist together. Start writing down those mental “oh that’s a good song for my site soundtrack” notes and make a list happen.

Reread You Don’t Have to Go Home Exhausted by Ann McGee-Cooper for more ideas on keeping my energy up.

Training for the marathon

Concentration level was as big an issue as energy level. Runners train for their 10Ks, and I think I need to train for writing days by getting myself a shiny new daily writing practice. This one’s going to be hard. Wish me luck!



RSVP for either or both July 10K Days: Wed the 20th / Sat the 23rd


Taryn Blake guest blogging at the Fear of Writing blog

Taryn Blake

Taryn Blake writes surrounded by a large collection of gargoyles and is assisted by a Cairn Terrier and a rescued cat. (She uses the term “assisted” loosely.) She describes herself as “pretty gothy—except for all the pink stuff” and plans to move to the Pacific Northwest just as soon as she wins the lottery. Her website launch will be announced on Twitter later in the summer. She tweets as @tarynblake71.

18 Responses to What I Learned from My First 10K Day
  1. Kirsty
    July 12, 2011 | 5:39 AM

    Hi Taryn, great article and I know I’m going to find it really helpful for my first 10K day. Thanks for sharing! Kirsty x

    • Taryn Blake
      Twitter: tarynblake71
      July 12, 2011 | 7:34 AM

      Thanks, Kirsty! You might consider keeping your own list of what’s working and what isn’t as you go through the writing day. I know I wouldn’t have remembered even half of these ideas if I hadn’t jotted them down immediately.

      Good luck with your first 10K! I’ll see you there. ~~Taryn

  2. Susan T. Blake
    July 12, 2011 | 12:55 PM

    This is great sharing, Taryn, thank you! I also learned about resources I didn’t know about, so double thanks!

    Good luck with your 10k training! I have to look into this for myself…

    • Taryn Blake
      Twitter: tarynblake71
      July 12, 2011 | 1:01 PM

      Thanks for stopping in to read, Susan! Glad you found something helpful.

      There are 10K Days every month — one on a Wednesday and one on a Saturday.

      See you on Twitter! ~~Taryn

  3. Lois
    July 12, 2011 | 1:31 PM

    Thanks for these tips! I’ve been doing 10K Day since…well, I don’t remember when, but it’s been a ton of fun. I hope you have a great time with it this month! 🙂

    I’ve recently rediscovered slowcooker cooking, and you’d better believe I’ll be making good use of my slowcooker(s) this month!

    • Taryn Blake
      Twitter: tarynblake71
      July 12, 2011 | 2:37 PM

      Thanks, Lois! Most people think of slow cookers in the winter, but I enjoy mine in the summer because it doesn’t heat up the kitchen like the stove does.

      • Lois
        July 12, 2011 | 6:21 PM

        Exactly! 😀

        It’s also very convenient on 10K Day when you can just throw everything in there and forget about it until dinner time. 😉

  4. Kathryn
    July 12, 2011 | 1:43 PM

    I love the self care ideas for creativity. Especially about planning food, that’s one I tend to forget too. Probably needs a page in my Book of Me.

    I’ve never seen 10k days, need to look into that. Also, you might want to look at heat mapping too. Seems like I promised a post in that and never delivered. *writes note to self*


    • Taryn Blake
      Twitter: tarynblake71
      July 12, 2011 | 2:41 PM

      Thanks for stopping by to read, Kathryn!

      A 10K Day could be a great way to get a lot of writing done for your site. It helps to know there is a whole group typing along with you 🙂

      And you could write that heat mapping post — nudge, nudge.

      See you on Twitter! ~~Taryn

  5. Christy Bower
    Twitter: christybower
    July 12, 2011 | 2:29 PM

    Taryn, you did a great job on your first 10K day. It was fun to cheer you on and get progress updates. And you identified a number of things that will help you do even better next time. Yay!

    I can identify with the healthy food problem. When I’m on a roll with my writing, I never want to stop to actually cook something so planning ahead is essential.

    Here’s to a great marathon next time! Oh, wait, I think I committed to doing it, too! 😉 I’m glad to have a new writing partner. It keeps me motivated.

    • Taryn Blake
      Twitter: tarynblake71
      July 12, 2011 | 2:44 PM

      Yes, you did! You did commit to doing the next 10K with me! It’ll be a blast.

      And thanks again for all the support last month.

      We can do eeet! ~~Taryn

  6. Maria
    July 12, 2011 | 4:54 PM

    Taryn, it was great hanging out with you on your first 10K. I wish you much luck in future 10K days. 🙂

    • Taryn Blake
      Twitter: tarynblake71
      July 12, 2011 | 5:22 PM

      Thanks! Are you in for this month? ~~Taryn

  7. j
    July 15, 2011 | 1:08 AM

    You know, I never hit 10k (usually not even close). I always go in with a vague idea of what I’ll work on, never with a clear goal and notes. *slaps palm to forehead*

    I love 10k days, but I’d love them even more if I finished something. Thank you for the tips!

    • Taryn Blake
      Twitter: tarynblake71
      July 16, 2011 | 11:44 AM

      Thanks so much, J!

  8. Fear of Writing
    Twitter: fearofwriting
    July 15, 2011 | 12:37 PM


    Thank you for agreeing to write this post after I pounced on your intriguing final update during last month’s 10K fest. 😀

    Even though I run these events, I needed some of these reminders myself. Also, the part where you said “Waking up without an alarm” was very helpful. That’s what I always do, but sometimes I feel sheepish about that when almost everybody shows up for my own event while I’m still in bed. So it was great to read your words and have more self-acceptance for my body’s needs.

    Fabulous collection of tips! I think all our regulars, as well as newcomers, would benefit from reading this.

    ~ Milli

    • Taryn Blake
      Twitter: tarynblake71
      July 16, 2011 | 11:46 AM

      Thank you for inviting me, Milli! And thanks to the Fear of Writing community for being so welcoming to a newcomer to the group.

  9. John
    February 20, 2012 | 5:20 AM

    Hello Taryn, thank you for the insightful assortment of tips for the 10K Day. Pairing breaks with the 10K Day check-ins, may do the trick. I liked the suggestion of copy/paste ideas into a separate document. If I ate all that healthy food, you recommended, it could cause my system to go into shock. I found that these new one cup at a time coffee maker seems to work for me, no mess. Thank you for sharing your experiences, I am sure they will help me with my 10K day.

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