Recipe for success


Well, there you have it. It is possible to write 11,523 words in three days.


Step 1. Go out with some fellow dissertationists on the Friday night. They will be bound to say things to you like ‘What, nothing?’ and then look at each other and say things like ‘Oh, about 6,000,’ and then, overcome with remorse, they will try and soften the blow with, ‘But they’re crap.’ Crap, are they? Pretty sure they’re better than my blank pages, my snowy-white sheets of non-wordy blankness. Well, as my old mother used to say, better a sheet covered in crap than a clean one. No, wait, is that right?

Step 2. Make it clear to your companions that you’re not drinking booze because you need to get a shift on this weekend. Believe me, the bombshell that you’ve written screw-all will mean they accept it without a murmur. In fact, they’re probably a bit scared of you.

Step 3. Try and find a beverage that isn’t water, isn’t boozy and yet doesn’t contain so much sugar it blows your pancreas. You won’t. Shudder as you embark on the third pint of orange juice and lemonade, and listen grimly to your ‘friends’ and their larky chatter. The 6,000-word friends. Bastards. They’re drinking beer. Laughing. They can afford to, they’ve started writing.

Step 4. Around 9.30, rise, gather your things rather stiffly and bid your by now uproariously mirthful companions a lofty goodnight. They won’t notice your manner. They’re pissed. Bastards. Well-prepared, paced-it-out-beforehand, got-my-head-down, I-deserve-this-because-I’ve-written-so-many-chunting-effing-bastarding-words bastards.

Step 5. Go home and spend about 15 minutes trying to scrub away the small woolly jumper that three pints of orange juice and lemonade have knitted for each tooth. Go to bed.

Step 6. Wake up at 5.55, before the alarm. Rise swiftly on wings of fear. Go to your desk. Stay there for three days. You will have churned out 11,523 by bank holiday lunchtime. You will also have balls of gristle the size of Scotch eggs on each shoulder. Go for a massage that you booked on Saturday (see? You can prepare when it suits you). Do a little gardening, hoover the house and bake a nice cake, like, for example, this one. Apricot, maple syrup and walnut, since you ask. And yes, that is my admiring flatmate.

11,523. Sing it!


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