Below is the chronicle of what I did yesterday, followed by observations on an epiphany.
6:30 AM : Setting things up to begin at 7:00. I’ll be writing for the next 8 hours, maybe 10, with occasional feeding and watering. Plus I have to drive my son to work.
7:00 AM : It begins.
Cumulative Word Counts:
Hour 1 7-8: 1625 (1625)
Hour 2 8-9: 3692 (2067)
Hour 3 9-10: 5791 (2099)
Hour 4 10-11: 7754 (1963)
Hour 5 11-12: 9732 (1978)
Hour 6 12-1: 12762 (3030)
Hour 7 1-2: 12762 (0 – lunch break)
Hour 8 2-3: 13496 (734)
Hour 9 3-4: 15505 (2009)
So, in the last nine hours, I did eight hours of writing, taking a 10-15 minute break every hour.
My average is 1938 words per hour, though I admit I lost focus in hour 8 (the 7th hour of writing).
My best output was hour 6, 3030 words in that hour or 50.5 words per minute. Considering I took a small break in each hour, the Words-Per-Minute are a little higher.
So, to what do I owe this verbosity? Partly to Rachel Aaron and this blog post (and her book of the same name) and to the methods contained in “Write, Publish, Repeat”, specifically the ‘beats’ section.
You see, 90% of this was mapped out beforehand in a handwritten notebook. I knew the bones of the story, knew what I wanted to get down and was excited to do this. I hadn’t written in weeks due to publishing my pre-9/11 diary, so my only outlet was handwriting the skeleton of a story.
This is the skeleton upon which I build the last 15,500 words.
So how did I get that speed? Do i normally type 3K words an hour? Hell to the NO. I’m lucky to get 1200 an hour at my 35 WPM hunt and peck pseudo-touch-type style.
No, I used my Dragon Naturally speaking. I now don’t have to worry about misspellings.
Mind you, what I have is a 15,000 word HOT MESS. No, nothing is misspelled, but there are quite a few misunderstandings and skipped words.
If I maintained my roughly 1200 to 1300 word hourly manual-typing output, I still would have had over 10,000 words today.
This exercise also told me something critical about my writing style.
I can’t fluff.
I have several first drafts of 25,000 – 35,000 words. After that, the story was told; I did what I set out to do. However, I felt as if I was doing it wrong. Why can’t I get this story to 100,000 words, or even 75,000? What’s wrong with me?
It dawned on me in the aftermath of another ‘failure’: I get bored when I try to become overly verbose.
Yes these tales have to fleshed out, but if my storytelling sweet spot is 20K – 30K words, then this is the type of author I’m going to be. If I’m bored, the reader will be bored. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
So, while i did not hit my stupid-cray-cray uber-goal of half a novel in a day, I did something more profound for my writing and my marketing.
Since I can create a massive story-arc, but have trouble getting the segments past a certain point, I have decided that I will still write my arc, but will chop it into stories of about 20,000 words. Episodes, if you will.
But since trying to sell stories, even connected stories, over a span of time is not as marketing-friendly as dropping a novel, I’ll have to write the whole arc, in 20K segments, then drop them all at once when the arc is completed. Boom goes the dynamite.
That might mean I have to sit on 80,000 completed words for a month or two, but it also means I can use the Literary Bomb known as the Liliana Nirvana Technique.
I’ll let you know how it goes in about 3 months. You might not hear from me for a while 🙂
Be safe and be well.