Slogging the Mire: 9/3/17
For this week’s update I’m going to fill you in on a bit of how I organize my writing time.
For me, progress in writing can be broken down with math. Authors count progress in words. Certain quantities of words add up to stories of various sizes. Knowing how many words you can produce, on average, in an hour, will tell you how much you can create with a certain amount of time. For example: a flash fiction story is typically considered to be fewer than 1,500 words and the average flash story is around 1,000. So, if you know you write at 300 words an hour, you know you can finish a flash fiction story in less than four hours. If it’s a 5,000 word short story you’re shooting for, that’ll take about 16 hours at that rate. This is draft time, not including editing, daydream prep, etc… But it’ll give you a good general idea of how long you need to sit your butt in a chair and plunk out words of prose, for each story.
Obviously, the ability to produce more words, faster, is good. It’s also much better if the quality is higher and requires less editing time on the back end. 2,000 words an hour that requires 40% of them to be edited actually takes more time to produce than 1,000 words that are tighter and only need about 10% edited. The goal, ultimately, is to be good enough at writing to have a high, clean, word count per hour. With practice, clean first drafts are certainly possible. Certainly with shorter fiction (typically, editing gets more complex in proportion to the length of the story).
By knowing my word count per hour average, and my amount of time to devote to writing, I can come up with a good idea of how many words I can write in a given period.
In ideal conditions, I can write 2,000 words an hour. In crappy conditions, I write about 400. I usually require an hour to an hour and a half to “get in the zone”. My writing is much quicker as I stay focused. I’m more productive by a large margin with a five hour block of time than I am with several two hour blocks of time. Everything considered, factoring in prep time, etc… I can reliably produce 1,000 an hour.
I’m at a point where I’m capable of devoting at least twenty hours a week to this. Sometimes up to as much as fifty. But not all of it is writing time. There’s editing, creating graphics, putting stuff onto the webpages, etc… For purposes of determining what I can produce for an audience, I’ve estimated using the three hours a day, Monday thru Friday, 15 hours a week, 60 a month, on actual prose creation.
This means I can, reliably, write 60,000 words a month. I’ve chopped that writing up into the following per month;
4 Flash Fiction stories 1000-1500 words long.
2 Flash Fiction stories 500-1000 words long (shorter, due to needing to fit in a card for mailing).
2 Full Length Stories 6,000-9,000 words long.
1 Novel chapter 8,000-10,000 words long.
Low end, that tallies up to 25,000. High end, it’s 36,000. This is well within my capacity to produce, even with several hours for editing. And, again, this is based on 15 ‘butt in chair’ hours a week. I’ll consistently have more hours once the wee one goes to back to school.
There you have it. That’s how I break it down and plan. September and parts of October are already done. I should have October finished by the 15th and be moving on. The goal is as much as possible. I’ve finished 17,000 words since I started this six weeks ago, and that was while setting up the Patreon, shooting and editing a video, watching the kiddo, and more. I’ve gotten about a quarter of the time I have now, and produced about a quarter of what I plan. Right on target!
Until further notice; this is me!