Elephants for Breakfast: 5 Steps to Higher Word Output the Chunky Way

Posted on Jun 18, 2015 by   7 Comments | Posted in Blog · Uncategorized

By Allie Pleiter

Writing fast has become a survival skill for today’s author.  Not just fast, but good work quickly done, dependably done and delivered on time. 

“Wait!” you cry, “This is art.  Art doesn’t work on a deadline!”

I beg to differ.  Working artists do indeed work on a deadline.  If we want steady work (or steady income from our independently produced books), dependable productivity is a function every writer should master.  Can you learn to wrangle even your uncooperative muse to meet your timetable?  Yes.

You just have to eat elephants for breakfast.


Author Allie PleiterYou know the old joke: “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  Forgive me while I mix a metaphor, but for me those “bites” are “chunks,” and have become the Chunky Method I’ve taught all across the country for several years. 

The Method was born out of the concept that every writer has a “chunk”—an amount of quality writing he or she can produce in one sitting before “the juice” runs out.  We mistake the end of a Chunk for writer’s block, but it isn’t.  You haven’t run out of talent or ideas, you’ve just run out of creativity for now.  Chunks are individual to each writer, but they are remarkably consistent if given the right framework.

Want to know your Chunk?  Here’s how:

  • Arrange for five writing sessions where you will not be disturbed (hard, I know!) and do your best to give yourself an ideal environment.
  • Write until you run out of creativity and record your word count for each of those sessions
  • Do the math: add the word counts for all five sessions, then divide that total by five. This will give you your average word count.
  • Round it up to a nice workable number—for example, if your average is 843 words, consider 850 your chunk.

5)  Use your chunk to create a Chunky Method Writing Plan.

A Chunky Method Writing Plan helps you schedule your workload to meet a deadline.  Yes, this requires a little more math, but I have faith in you!  Here’s an example to help you understand:

Andy Author’s chunk is 900 words.  If Andy knows he can reasonably schedule 3 sessions of writing per week, Andy can expect to write 2,700 words each week.  If his target manuscript word count is 80,000 words, I recommend he set a goal of 88,000 words, giving him a 10% overwrite margin to help in the editing process.  At a rate of 2,700 words per week, Andy can use the Chunky Method to calculate that it will take him 33 weeks—or a little over 8 months—to write his first draft.  That’s useful information.

Of course, the Chunky Method is a bit more complicated than that—there are ways to increase productivity, tools for scheduling Chunks into your day, how different size chunks affect your work style—all kinds of good stuff.  You can learn all this and more by accessing my upcoming online class.

PS:  If you want help with the math, go to www.alliepleiter.com and sign up for the Chunky Method mailing list—I’ll send you a free downloadable Chunky Method Calculator for joining.

Now go forth and nosh on those pachyderms! Get Chunky!


An avid knitter and French macaron fan, Allie Pleiter spends her days writing four books at a time, buying yarn, and avoiding housework.  A friend’s dare to begin writing has produced two parenting books, 23 novels, and national speaking engagements on faith, writing, and her favorite: time management.

For more info on her craft book go to her Website’s book page HERE


Don’t miss Allie Pleiter’s

On-Line Workshop

The Chunky Method of Time Management

for Writers: How to Finish That Book Even

When Life Gets in the Way

This 2 Week Course Starts July 6th

Sponsored by FF&P

Find out more HERE



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