Calculating Speed

I can type over 100 words per minute. That means, in theory, I should be able to write 6,000 words per hour and 48,000 words in an 8-hour work day.

While that's technically true, it's completely impractical. In order to write that many words in a day I'd have to think as fast as I type or plagiarize word for word. And to handle 8 hours a day, I'd also need superhuman finger strength and the sitting endurance of a tree sloth.

Physical typing speed is not what slows me down. In real life, I can write 500-1000 words per hour on a good day. That should mean I can write a full draft of a novel (80-120,000 words) in less than 3 weeks, but the problem is that most days I'm unable to write for even one hour. The rest of the time, I'm plotting, outlining, parenting, revising, teaching, parenting, brainstorming, playing Sudoku, blogging, decompressing, parenting, and parenting.

That's still just a theoretical rate anyway. In real life, it took me about 3 years to write the first draft of Travelers at 76,000 words*, a rate of about 100 words/day.** I started the first draft of Air Pirates last September and in 6 months wrote 16,000 words (130 words/day). The crazy thing is, after taking a break to do a bunch of querying for Travelers, I wrote another 7,000 words in the last two weeks, which is like 700 words/day!

Shoot, if I could keep that rate up, I could write a draft in 5-10 months. If only life were that simple. If you'll excuse me, I have to move the worldly possessions of eight people from one house to another, while simultaneously ensuring that the kids get to school and back, do their homework, obey Mom and Dad, go to sleep on time, and (in some cases) have a clean diaper and learn to classify a direct object.

* When I say word count, I mean only words left in the final draft. I don't count revisions, notes, outlines, brainstorms, or previous drafts. When the draft is done, I just ask MS Word what my word count is and record it. It's the simplest, most honest way to count, but it's not the most useful statistic if your question is, "When will the book be done?"

** Assuming 5 work days per week, 50 work weeks per year.

2 comments:

Matthew said...

Stupid direct objects. Well, at least they're better than indirect objects.

Adam Heine said...

No, I have to teach those too.