Archives: word count

How to Write Faster: Stand Up!

2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel AaronA while back, I read Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Better, and More of What You Love and Chris Fox’s 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter books. I recommend both. (As well as all of their fiction too!) These non-fiction titles each touch on different reasons why you may be writing slowly. One is more about mindset, while the other is more about obstacles you let get in your way.

Now that I’ve been writing 20k words per month recently, I decided to take a look back at how fast I really am writing. Now that we’ve got some data, let’s play with it!

5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris FoxUnfortunately, sometimes I do a terrible job of accounting, and let writing carry me away without glancing at the clock first. So none of those (no doubt fantastic) writing sessions are factored into the data below. I also threw out the first couple weeks of “writing sprints” as Chris calls them, because I consider those more like practice runs.

 

Please note: I am not a data scientist. I used averages in all cases instead of median because I’m lazy and Google Sheets easily gives me the averages.

 

Average overall word counts written per hour

Avg words per hour: 2,448

Avg sprint duration: 23 minutes

If I get interrupted in a sprint, I stop, note how long I’d been going until then, and jot down how many words I wrote by then. (e.g. 23 minutes, 777 words) This means I have plenty of sprints that are under my target of 25 minutes.

However, lately I’ve also been allowing myself to do the opposite—I jot down when I start, and just write until I reach a stopping point or notice myself getting fatigued. I still find my average to be around 25 minutes that way, generally topping out around 30 or 32 minutes.

The other day I was on a roll and wrote for 73 straight minutes before coming up for air, which is about as long as you can concentrate. Since I’m used to working in 25-minute pomodoros, that felt like forever!

 

Writing while standing vs. sitting at a desk

Avg words per hour while sitting: 2,343

Avg sitting sprint duration: 21 minutes

Avg words per hour while standing: 2,610

Avg standing sprint duration: 20 minutes

I use a standing desk, and I find my back hurts much less when I use it. (I’ve been in physical therapy for about a year for back and neck pain.) Unfortunately, I’m also lazy, so the sample sizes are skewed in favor of more sitting sprints (34 sitting vs. 22 standing) and my standing sprints tend to be shorter. (This does not include the 73-minute outlier, which causes the avg standing duration to go up to 23 minutes.) But the data here tells me I need to try standing more often and see if it really does offer better overall speed boosts or if these were biased.

 

Writing in short bursts vs. long pomodoros

Avg wph on short sprints (<20 minutes): 2,468

Avg wph on normal sprints (20-30 minutes): 2,458

Avg wph on longer sprints (30-40 minutes): 2,365

I have decent data sets for the first two, with 21 examples for the first and 27 for the second. I’ve only recorded 8 writing sprints in the third category, and I didn’t factor in the long 73-minute sprint here. It was 2,486 wph by itself.

 

Now for the part we’ve all been waiting for…

Best days of the week to write fiction

Avg wph on Mondays (6 sprints): 2,563
with 21-min avg sprints

Avg wph on Tuesdays (7 sprints): 2,317
with 26-min avg sprints

Avg wph on Wednesdays (2 sprints): 2,787
with 20-min avg sprints

Avg wph on Thursdays (3 sprints): 1,743
with 17-min avg sprints

Avg wph on Wed or Thurs (5 sprints): 2,161
with 18-min avg sprints

Avg wph on Fridays (11 sprints): 2,631
with 10-min avg sprints

Avg wph on Saturdays (14 sprints): 2,477
with 26-min avg sprints

Avg wph on Sundays (13 sprints): 2,388
with 22-min avg sprints

It should be noted that I rarely write on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I tend to spend Wednesdays with my husband and friends, and Thursdays at writers’ groups. So that’s why I’ve combined them into one average as well.

At first glance, Friday seems like a fantastic day to write, but as you can see my durations are extremely short, which means I’m most likely getting interrupted or am unable to focus for long those days. I also notice that I haven’t been recording times on Fridays as much lately, so I’ll have to gather more data. For now, it looks like Saturdays through Tuesdays are my best writing days.

 

Best times of the day to write novels

Avg wph prior to 9 am (6 sprints): 2,840
with 19-min avg sprints

Avg wph around noon (7 sprints): 2,224
with 26-min avg sprints

Avg wph from 1 to 3 pm (5 sprints): 2,349
with 23-min avg sprints

Avg wph from 3 to 4 pm (6 sprints): 2,451
with 21-min avg sprints

Avg wph from 4 to 6 pm (6 sprints): 2,538
with 26-min avg sprints

Avg wph from 6 to 8 pm (8 sprints): 2,716
with 16-min avg sprints

Avg wph from 8 to 9 pm (7 sprints): 2,190
with 26-min avg sprints

Avg wph from 9 to 10 pm (7 sprints): 2,472
with 17-min avg sprints

Avg wph from 10 pm to midnight (5 sprints):  2,395
with 14-min avg sprints

What have we here? Perhaps Chris is right, and writing first thing in the morning is the way to go. Most of the “prior to 9 am” entries are prior to going to the day job, which is motivating in and of itself. I haven’t been doing that lately, so I think it’s time to give that another shot.

6 to 8 pm seems to be another good slot at first glance, but these are also very short sprints. When I look back, they don’t seem to be because I got interrupted necessarily, but more because I tend to finish writing unfinished scenes during this time slot for some reason. Maybe because I get cut off in the morning when it’s time to head to the day job.

Next up is 4 to 6 pm. These are weekend slots, and I’m probably feeling pretty relaxed by this time. 9 to 10 pm (usually weekdays) and 3 to 4 pm (weekends) also look like very reliable times.

Writing after 8 pm or in the dead zone of 11 am to 3 pm may not be the best times to write fast, but they’re better than not writing at all!

 

Conclusions: how to write faster

2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel AaronStep 1: Read the books I told you about: Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Better, and More of What You Love and Chris Fox’s 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter

Step 2: Do what they say. I recommend setting a pomodoro timer so that you know a break is coming—you just have to concentrate for the next 25 minutes, and… go!

The following are more like notes to myself, but you can give them a try and see how they work for you:

  • I plan to continue my pomodoros of 25 minutes, but some experimentation with writing up to 90 minutes would be good.
  • I need to write while standing more often.
  • Gather more data on Fridays!
  • Avoid skipping writing on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, or Tuesdays.
  • Write first thing in the morning on weekdays. Write between 3 to 6 pm on weekends, but give first thing in the morning a shot.

Come hang out with me on social media and help keep me motivated!

2014 Writing and Publishing Plans

2014 Writing and Publishing Plans

Time for another update!

2013 Review

Coming Soon! by Paul Downey | Flickr

Due to a certain wedding and honeymoon, I got a little behind on The Ageless, my post-apocalyptic novel with fantasy elements. But my writing is back on track now.

I’d planned to jump back to 4 sessions a week after the wedding, but I’ve actually been fitting in 5 writing sessions a week!

As for 2013 word counts, since most of the year was review and revisions, I only wrote about 50,000 words. That doesn’t count a lot of in-line revisions, but it does count entire scene rewrites (e.g. if switching POV).

You can follow along with my progress on my writing calendar.

I finished my review of The Ageless, and am deep into rewrites. I had hoped to finish them by February, but now it looks like it’ll be closer to the end of February or mid to late March.

I also clarified how I plan to publish The Ageless, The Century, and my unknown future projects.

In December 2013, I completed a business plan for Worldbinding, based on an episode of the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast. I think it’ll help make my goals clearer in times of uncertainty.

Now, let’s talk about 2014.

2014 Writing and Publishing Goals

In order to better predict when I’ll be ready to publish The Ageless and The Century, I started used a Gantt chart in Google Drive. It’s really helped illuminate how unrealistically optimistic I was being about my publishing dates.

For instance, I thought that I’d be able to publish The Ageless in late 2014. But finding a cover designer, developmental editor, copy editor, proofreader, and formatter will take time, working with them will take time, and putting it all together will take time. Which I’d not fully considered. With a Gantt chart, you can really see how dependent upon one another all these tasks are.

I’m now focusing on the following goals:

  • Complete Pass 1 and Pass 2 revisions to The Ageless and hand it off to beta readers by late February to late March
  • Finish incorporating feedback from alpha and beta readers and submit to my future developmental editor by mid June
  • Finish incorporating feedback from my editor and submit to my future copy editor by mid August
  • Finish incorporating copy edits and submit to my future proofreader by mid September 
  • Submit concept ideas to my future cover designer by mid September
  • Review proofreader’s changes and submit to my future interior formatter by mid October 
  • Receive first draft and send feedback of cover by mid October
  • Compare and choose final cover by early November
  • Give cover designer final page count for spine width, give formatter digital cover for ebook, other administrative stuff, upload to Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, CreateSpace, etc. 
  • Release around the first of the year, 2015. 
And while The Ageless is away with other people (beta readers, editors, etc.), I can be working on Pass 1 revisions to The Century. 

Non-Writing Goals

I intend to attend either AnachroCon in Atlanta or MystiCon in Virginia in February, ConCarolinas in June, and Dragon*Con in August. I’m hoping to attend 2015 WorldCon, but we’ll see how finances look later this year. 
You can see in my last post that I plan to read 18 books by female authors in 2014. 
I also hope to be more active on Google+, Goodreads, and other fan sites in 2014. 

Let’s Talk

Are you planning to publish a book in 2014? If you have any suggestions for good SFF editors or cover designers, please let me know.

If you’re interested in beta reading any of my novels, contact me by sending me a private post on Google+ at +Traci Loudin.

If you sign up for my new releases newsletter, you’ll be the first to know when I publish The Ageless.

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2013 Writing Goals

2013 Writing Goals

I’ve been a steady writer for over a year now, and I’m a little over halfway done with writing my futuristic science fiction novel, The Century. See my goals for 2013 and my thoughts about my progress so far after the jump.

2013 Goals

  • Write four times a week (on track)
    • Except around certain holidays and vacations (honeymoon!)
    • Try to keep weekly wordcount closer to 5,000 (on track)
  • Finish the first draft of The Century by March (on track)
    • This may include a read-through soon (done)
  • Leave myself revision notes for the Century
    • Max. two weeks in March, then let it rest
  • Reread The Ageless
    • Max. four weeks
  • Revise The Ageless
    • Not really sure how long this will take
  • Find beta readers for The Ageless (mostly done)
  • Make a decision about how to publish The Ageless (done)
    • Currently leaning toward self-publishing this one as digital-only at first (yes)
  • Make a decision about how to publish The Century (probably done)
    • Currently leaning toward putting this one through the query machine (probably self-pub)
  • Become more involved on Goodreads or other online reading communities
  • Find moderator(s) to help me with the Speculative Fiction Writers (done)
    • I started this Google+ community one month ago — it’s reached 600 members, which means I’ll soon need help (true, done)
  • Read 20 books in the genre, and a few outside it (falling behind)
    • I need to set up my Goodreads list (falling behind)
  • Actually talk to people at conventions (on track)
  • Determine which cons to attend in 2014…
  • Figure out what to do with that short story set in the universe of The Ageless (on track)
  • Hiatus for at least half of October as I make wedding and honeymoon preparations

The past week or so I’ve been wavering on whether I’ll write Part 3 of the Century before beginning revisions on The Ageless. Some of these goals may be flipped if I decide I need more time to let Part 3 marinate.

Brief History of Conventions

The first conventions I ever went to were JACON and Necronomicon when I was in college. I went with groups of friends, then didn’t really attend any cons again until last year, when I went to ConCarolinas (see my 2012 recap), ConTemporal, and MACE.

However, I didn’t have any real conversations with anyone at those except for a brief chat with James Tuck and a longer conversation with Bill Hatfield. This year I want to try to get out of my shell a little and really talk to other writers, even if they are published authors and therefore intimidating.

Looking Back

Last year I was one month late (see six-month checkup) finishing up the The Ageless on July 10. I’m hoping to keep on track with The Century this time around, especially since I now devote an additional day a week to writing compared to most of last year.
It took me about a month and a half to finish the main research and extrapolation I needed to get the ideas for The Century lined up. Actual writing on The Century didn’t begin until September. Since then, I’ve written an average of 3,669 words a week. I’d like to get that a little closer to 5,000.
In December I began hosting the Speculative Fiction Writers community on Google+, which has been great in helping me get out of my shell and talk with other writers in the genre. I hope to really connect with more people in 2013. And I’d really like to get more involved on Goodreads.

I’ve mostly abandoned chasing Facebook and Twitter, though I will continue to post stuff there on occasion.

Word Counts

In November, I decided to try to start writing four times a week as an ante-up instead of NaNoWriMo. As expected, everything fell apart around Thanksgiving. But it should also be noted there were other times I wasn’t able to write as much, such as when the day job interfered (sending me to a conference in October) or when I was simply stressed around the holidays.
If making a distinction between writing nights and research nights… In terms of actual writing, I wrote four nights per week once. There have been several weeks in which I worked on The Century four nights a week, doing research and whatnot. I’ve tended to average about three nights of actual writing per week since The Century got underway in September.
So, unlike some writers, I do count research, outlining, blocking out scenes, and so on as “work time.” Maybe if I didn’t have a day job, I could afford to only count actual writing days toward my four-times-a-week goals, but that’s a luxury I don’t have. I’d probably scare myself off researching and then the work would be worse for it.
My average words written per week (not counting the weeks in which no writing was done) was 3,669. Total word count since I began writing The Century is about 58,700. With those kinds of numbers, it would take me six months to write a novel, if I already had everything outlined and ready to go. Too bad it never quite works out that way!

Writing Is a Marathon

In past years, when I’d miss a few days writing, I’d beat myself up and give into a self-defeating attitude, which ultimately resulted in not writing for months. But now that I’m treating my writing more seriously and holding myself accountable, I’ve decided not to let life’s little stumbles get in my way. This has kept me going even when I had an abysmal week here and there.

You can see my writing calendar (where I record my progress) on the Current Projects page. I also put the dates of published blog posts along with conventions and writing groups I attended on the calendar to chart my growth as a writer.

If you’ve checked out my Projects and found them interesting, you can sign up for my newsletter, which will only be mailed out when I have an announcement about an upcoming book or story. That might be a while, and I promise to only email you once a month anyway.

Circle me on Google+, and if you’re a fellow writer of science fiction or fantasy, come join the Speculative Fiction Writers community. I’m also on Goodreads.

Hope to see you around in 2013!