How To Write 2000 Words A Day

How To Write 2000 Words A Day


This is a guide on how to write a rough draft of 2000 words, ideally in one sitting, if not in one day. Key takewaways are that writing and editing are two different things. A guiding idea is that you should write like a mongrel, so that you can use the spare time you have throughout your day. This also covers some tools that you can use and a guide to structuring your writing process.

The Mindset to Adopt

You should not treat writing as some perfect process. There is no perfect first draft, there is no amazing insight, and there is no better version of your writing. There is only what you write.

First, you should treat the writing process as separate from the editing process. You should not be trying to find the most perfect turn of phrase as you write out your ideas. That just confuses you and makes you shift gears for no reason. Write first, edit later.

Second, you should write all and every idea you have. At least in the context of a social sciences or humanities essay, you are writing to express you ideas. What are your ideas? They are your active explorations and critiques on some issue that matters. So do not delete your writing, do not restrict yourself. Instead, you should let yourself write whatever thought you have in your mind.

Since you are editing later, you can always restructure or delete segments that you want in your own time. But while you are writing, you are only ever focused on writing.

Third, you should be able to write at any point in time. If you have a break of five minutes, you should feel free to jot your ideas down. You do not need to be sitting down with a few spare hours to write. You will probably just not have the free time to do that in the first place. If you are in university, your schedule will be so packed that having three hours of free time as a block is just unrealistic. You also will not write good ideas.

Writing captures your ideas. You do not necessarily create ideas while staring at your computer. If you are looking at a blank page while you are ideating - you will probably have even less ideas. That also sounds too pressurising. Instead, you should find ways to capture your ideas and thoughts at any point in time. That lets you add to your writing without locking yourself into arbitrary writing schedules.

More will be said later on how to set this up. I also have some software recommendations.

Software and the Writing Process

The order of writing is like this:

  1. A very rough outline
  2. Several iterations of a draft
  3. Editing to make your words flow

When you write an outline, there are different preferences. I like to use bullet points to set out the main points of my ideas and the argument. If I don't know what I want to say, I also write that down. If I have a question for further research. I still write it down. After you do your research, you can put your answers down in that section.

This can be as vague or precise as you want. A good outline, in my opinion, is one that approximates a full first draft in the first place. This is akin to having all your points laid out, but because it is in your outline, you have flexibility. When you write your first draft, it will just be a matter of translating the outline into a actual sentences and paragraphs.

When you move through your drafts, I like to have many iterations of the paper. I'm talking about 20 different drafts. Think version updates of software, just as people do when they save versions on github. This also removes the perfectionist tendencies. Constant saving also gives you assurance that you are not deleting things forever - you can always pull good paragraphs from earlier versions when you edit.

Lastly, by the time you are editing, you will be able to improve the paper massively. This involves making sure you have good examples and substantiation of points. Or that your flow of the paper makes sense - where you add more paragraphs to explain points if needed. Or that you have too much fluff that doesn't get to the heart of the issue. And lastly, that you make sure the sentences you write are clear.

A really good rule of thumb as your write and edit is to make sure what you are writing is clear. Clarity helps you know what to include, how to explain your thoughts, and what examples are needed. Another trick is to read your paper out loud, print it out on paper, or read it backwards.

You should also know who your audience is. Don't assume that your ideas are immediately apparent. Don't be afraid to explain things. But also know when you don't need to explain very obvious concepts.

To capture your ideas quickly, I like to use google keeps or Obsidian. The point is to have something on your phone that you always have on you. That way you can always jot your ideas down as they come to you.

To write drafts out, I like to use Obsidian as well. But google docs is just as good.

What an Essay Is and Its Structure

First, most people should narrow the scope of their essay. A big mistake is explaining your research process. This usually involves starting with a general vague question, and the student writes down their research process. At the end of a very lengthy introduction, they may finally pose a question.

That is bad.

You should scope out your topic, and think hard about it. When you write your paper, you should present your idea in context and directly. This means you have already identified a topic. All the context that you have in your paper is only used to quickly and neatly set up the background necessary for the topic to be introduced.

In other words, use your context to explain usefully. Use context in your paper to make your analysis stronger, be relevant, or accentuate your argument. When I read papers, it really doesn't help to read a lengthy introduction that basically start with 'in the beginning, humanity emerged'.

Second, you should have the confidence to be saying something substantial. There is no strong need to be so careful and guarded that you end up saying nothing at all. Reading a worser version of a wikipedia article is not very useful to the reader.

You should also be clear when you are posing your own opinion, and when you are presenting evidence. Some students make very strong and aggressive claims without realising that is what they are doing. The stronger your claims, the more you need to justify it.

You also don't need to be saying something entirely novel or remaking some field of thought. It is enough, within a university term paper, to have some tentative thoughts. You can phrase it as interesting thoughts you generated while exploring the issue. In other words, you can qualify your ideas and be explicit that you are unsure of certain things.

Third, the academic style is specific and you should know how that works. Rhetoric is somewhat useful, but you should not casually throw it around. Some specific writing style tips include writing in a steady tone, being clear with what you mean, and understanding your audience. Grabbing attention like a magazine article may not be so helpful. Neither might being careless with your words.

A helpful stance to consider is how knowledge and science is conducted, generally. When academics write papers, they are writing to each other. And they are writing to each other, in order to convince their peers. What are they convincing their peers of? Things that have implications and are useful. They may have implications for academic thought, which eventually relate to how we function, or how we perceive certain things.

It also helps to consider that knowledge is not linear. We do not collate knowledge and add it up to the sum of our understanding in some additive, linear fashion. Instead, we are actively discarding and assessing what we count as knowledge. Otherwise, we would think that pseudoscience and other faulty theories are somehow relevant to our current understanding of the world.

Neither is there a 'gap' to be filled. If knowledge is not linear in how it is produced and assessed, neither is there always some static gap to explore. Combinations of knowledge and different fields are accepted because they actually produce useful insight.

So it should be more apparent to you that you are writing to not just convince people, but convince people who are assessing your claims to some end. This end, of course, will be contextualised by your academic discipline - but that is something you can figure out.

If it helps, maybe you can imagine yourself as someone trying to enter this world. This helps you focus on what you want to say, and be clear on what you are trying to justify.


Hopefully that was helpful. Below are resources that I recommend, and where this post takes some inspiration from.

  • How to write a lot (book)
  • Obsidian (software)
  • Google keep (software)
  • Zotero (reference manager)

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