Last night I realized that my total word production for 2013, so far, (145,000) has already exceeded every previous year of writing except 2006. Which doesn’t say much for any of those previous years. Besides 2006, my record for any year was 140,000 words. And 2006 was hardly a gusher of new words (though it felt like it at the time) with only about 230,000 words.
Still, even paltry production adds up over time.
Since I started this “indie thing” in late 2010, I’ve added the following notches to my gun:
- Finished Gunwitch: A Tale of the King’s Coven (2011)
- Wrote New Fairy Moon (GoSH1, 2011)
- Wrote Gunwitch: The Witch Hunts (Gunwitch2, 2012)
- Wrote Living Ghost Time (GoSH2, 2012-2013)
- Wrote Red Moon Nights (GoSH3, 2013)
And that doesn’t include 30K words of one uncompleted novel (that I plan to finish this year) and 20K words of an abandoned project (may it rest in peace), and a couple short stories.
My point is that even somewhat sluggish production of new words can still result in completed novels. Multiple completed novels, even, over the course of years.
Slow and steady may not always win the race, but you will at least finish the race–if you don’t stop. And then you can always run (or walk) another lap. Or two. Or three. And maybe you get faster with practice.
I set my writing goals for 2013 in tiers. The first tier is to hit 200K words. The second tier is to complete both GoSH3 (already done) and Gunwitch3 (now underway) and get them published before Xmas. The final tier was to set a new one-year word count record. So far, I think I’m on course to hit all three tiers.
I guess my goal for next year and the years that follow will be to stop obsessing about word counts so much and just get the writing done.
Today I racked up another 1,000 words in the Gunwitch3 project (working title: The Witch at War)–after I realized I should have done one more bit of research *before* getting started this week. Research in the middle of the day’s writing will slow you down, let me tell you. But it’s all good. The project is underway. That’s what matters.
Thus begins another writing streak, which will continue until I reach “The End” yet again.
Also now in motion is the first round of editing GoSH3. I hope to have that ready for first readers before the middle of next week.
More news as it happens!
Living Ghost Time, the new middle-grade/tween ghost story, sequel to New Fairy Moon, is now available.
On the night before Brenna Guin’s annual July 4th Sleepover Extravaganza, she discovers her house is haunted by the ghost of Harvey Westmore, a magician. Which, she decides, is perfect. A touch of ghostly magic is exactly the surprise her party needs.
After the fireworks, as midnight strikes, Brenna launches her Midnight Surprise with Harvey’s help–and everything goes wrong. First, one of her sleepover guests becomes a living ghost. Then every ghost in the Spring Hollow Cemetery, the friendly and the unfriendly, comes to her party. And, to make matters worse, a desperate spirit takes over Brenna’s house to continue his quest for eternal life.
Now Brenna, with the help of her friends Lupe and Faye, must protect her sleepover guests from restless spirits while she races against the clock to rescue a ghost held prisoner–and keep her house from being destroyed–all before sunrise, when her parents wake up.
Available in trade paperback and ebook formats at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Apple and more!
- Write book.
- Publish book.
I like to keep things simple.
I think the recent attention paid to writers generating (or wishing they could generate) 5,000 to 10,000 words per day has skewed the definition of “fast”.
When I was first starting to take my writing seriously, I thought 1,000 words per day was a lot. Well, not really a lot, no, but a good target. After all, even doing that only 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, will net you 250,000 words, which is 2-4 novels worth of work.
That’s the pace I used for my first long work, The Indie Game Development Survival Guide. And for my first novel, Threads (unpublished). Though, there was a point while writing Threads when I did something boneheaded and lost 3 days worth of work. I was so angry at myself I wrote 3,000 words per day for the next few weeks to make up for it. And learned I could write 3,000 words per day. Which was nice to know. On the other hand, it didn’t help me finish the novel any faster, because I worked on Threads off and on from 2003-2005.
Anyway, I think “fast” needs to be revised back down to 2,000-3,000 words per day. That’s a solid, professional, and sustainable pace. Or maybe that should be considered “normal”, with “fast” used for anything over 3,000 words per day. Even the pulp writers of the early 20th century might agree with that. Frederick Faust (Max Brand) wrote in the 2500 words per day range, and, more recently, Stephen King weighs in about here, and so do a lot of other long-time professionals.
Sure, Erle Stanley Gardner or George Simenon would be unimpressed, but they were outliers with their 10,000+ word days (usually dictated, then typed by secretaries). We will call their output “extremely fast”.
Dean Wesley Smith’s recent publicity stunt of writing a 70,000-word novel in 10 days should also be considered an outlier. His stated purpose for doing it was to show it could be done. Not to hold up an example of how it should be done. He also stated that it was above his normal pace, which is probably more in the 4,000-5,000 range (guessing). We’ll call that “very fast”.
Going the other way, I don’t think 1,000 words per day should be considered “slow”. It’s not a fast pace, sure, but it’s still a good pace. More “moderate” than slow.
I think “slow” should be reserved for numbers in the 500-ish range per day. But even that pace will net you 1 or 2 novels each year. So … how is that “slow”, exactly?
So, where does that leave us? And are we better off now than we were?
I think the most important thing is to write consistently, at whatever speed that is for you. Sure, envy the outliers, be inspired by them, but don’t get hung up on trying to emulate them or feel bad that you can’t reach their lofty heights of daily word production.
Oh, and here’s one last point: You really shouldn’t say “I write 10,000 words per day” when you’re not actually writing 10,000 words every day, or at least not consistently. The correct phrasing is more like, “I’ve written 10,000 words on my best day(s).”
Have a good weekend!
GoSH3, working title Red Moon Nights, the second sequel to New Fairy Moon, reached THE END of the first draft today at 88993 words.
In related news, Living Ghost Time, the first sequel to New Fairy Moon, is in the final stages of publishing. Just need to get it formatted for print and ebook.
I’m looking forward to releasing both books this summer.
Don sent me a teaser of the Living Ghost Time (The Girls of Spring Hollow Book #2) cover painting. So I cropped it even smaller and offer it as a teaser to you.
When I stopped for lunch today, GoSH3′s total word count had rolled past 75,000. Which makes it longer than either of the previous two GoSH books. Right now, I’m estimating the completed word count to be between 85K and 95K.
My daughter is excited about this, actually, as she prefers longer books. Me, I just want to be done already…
So, yeah, I’ve been making progress. 75,000 words in 59 days isn’t dreadful, especially since I’ve had some other work to do at the same time (like getting GoSH2, Living Ghost Time, ready to publish, since its due out in June).
A bite to eat, and then it’s back to writing!
Today is the 50th day of my current writing streak, and the 50th day of writing on GoSH3 (not a coincidence). This is both good news (the former) and not-as-good news (the latter), because if I had maintained the new-words-written pace I had planned for the project, I would have been done with the first draft of GoSH3 by now.
Still, focusing on the positive, I crossed the 60,000 word mark on this project today. I’m always happy to get past 60,000 words.
My list of “project scheduling heuristics” for scheduling future writing projects grew by one over the past couple weeks. The first two were:
1. Plan to write X new words per week. The bulk of the writing happens Mon-Fri, but a pittance can be written over the weekends to keep momentum going.
2. During weeks that have publishing duties, like editing a manuscript, plan on X/2 (half X).
The new addition to this list is:
3. Add 1 week to cover Living, Unexpected Issus Of, and Metldowns, Emotional.
Of course, all of this assumes you (a) know approximately how long your novel will be when finished; and (b) you have a publishing schedule for already written work. And, (c) you figure you’ll only have to deal with one Major Life Issue and/or Emotional Meltdown per book.
Back to the writing! GoSH3 must be completed! (How else will I get to start writing Gunwitch3?)
Once again, as I write my way through the middle of a novel, the outline evolves in somewhat surprising ways. The spirit of the outlined chapters are intact, but the exact written form of that spirit tends to transform under the accumulation of character, setting and events thus far.
I’m cool with it. Of course I am. The evolutionary transformations are (almost) always better than the original outline. In a sense, the story becomes more like itself the further into it I go.
Sometimes I even update my outline to reflect the changes.
This doesn’t reduce the value of the outline, IMO, or mean I wasted the time spent “discovering” it . My outlines aren’t a rigid structure or a set of rails to push the story down. Mostly, I think of them as short, flexible first drafts to be expanded and improved on the way to a final manuscript.
 Yes, I’ve decided to call what I do “discovery outlining”.