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.
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!
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.