Racing toward that final word

This last week I read a couple of different posts about writing 10,000 words a day: here and here.

First the caveat — this is talking about me and my writing, my process and my speed. Not comparing or disparaging anyone else.

Anyway, both posts got me thinking, a lot, about my own process. I think that the triangle of know what you’re writing about, know when is the best time for you to write, and fire up your enthusiasm are key for higher word counts.

For me, I tend to write out drafts by hand, first, then type them up. When I’m on fire (that is, I know what I’m writing about and I’m pumped up about it) I can easily write 1000-1500 words per hour.

The problem is then, after I’ve written out all those words, I have to type them up. So I effectively cut my writing speed in half, down to 500-7500 words per hour total.

Words-per-hour isn’t my only measurement. I hate rewriting. I’d much rather get it right the first time. By doing the hand-to-typed draft, that first draft is really clean. When I type up the first draft, I end up doing a lot more editing. So even though the words-per-hour may be higher, I’m not convinced that the overall writing time is less.

So for the next few weeks I’m going to keep better track of things. I’m writing this week’s story out straight to the computer. (Which is good, actually, it’s about 9000 words.) I want to see how I can achieve high-quality, high-word-count hours. What it takes for me to tweak my process.

Tonight I followed her advice and wrote out the scenes before hand, getting all jazzed about them before I started typing. (That’s always one of my problems — I can get really excited before I start to hand-write — it’s like anything is possible. Sitting down at the computer has over-tones of working on the day job. It’s too much like work and not enough like writing!fun.) It was a very good writing session tonight.

Holding myself to a timer, and only letting myself write while I’m “on the clock” is always very effective.

I can’t tell yet how much rewriting this story will need once I finish typing it straight into the computer. At least 20% gets rewritten going from the hand-to-computer draft, then another 10% gets changed during the last couple of drafts. (That number can be higher, but is generally not lower.)

And now it’s time to not be writing, but knitting and reading instead.

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