Interestingly enough, lots of great discussion and feedback on the math post. But the item I got the most grief about privately and on a couple Twitter comments was me using Four Novels a Year pace. (How dare I suggest writers write that fast? Not kidding. Someone actually said that to me. Head-shaking, I know.)
Now, for those of you who have followed this silliness here for a while, you know I’ve done a few major posts about speed and typing.
One post was called Speed in the New World of Publishing series under the same tab at the top of the page. That chapter talked about writing fast and how slow writers in this new world will have trouble. And what writing “fast” actually means. You can find that chapter Here.
A second, and more recently updated post on this topic, is in the Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing series. It’s about the myth of how people think that writing fast equals writing poorly. You can find that full post Here.
If you have read or reread those, what I am about to say should make you smile.
Since the questions and nasty comments about the “speed” came about from a post about math and indie publishing, let me go over the math of “speed” of writing just one more time.
(Stop giggling you in the back row.)
First off, being a fast writer does not mean the person types fast. At least for most of us it doesn’t mean that. I type with four fingers and am lucky to get 750 words to 1,000 words per hour. Being a fast writer means the person writing just sits in front of the computer longer than most and actually produces new words.
So lets say you can type 250 words in 15 minutes on average. Slower at the start of a novel, faster toward the end.
Math: 250 words x 365 days = 91,250 words.
That’s a novel.
That means to write one novel a year a “professional writer” must spend 15 minutes per day at it.
(See why I say I love this job??? That’s all the expectations anyone puts on me. Don’t you wish your real world job was this easy?)
Those of you who take longer than a year to write a book will have to do your own math. And attempt to figure out what you do all day with your time.
Yeah, I know, I know, I know… What about research and rewriting and thinking and taking cleaner to the computer screen? All that takes time. Well, at 15 minutes of typing per day, you sure have time for all that I suppose.
So four books per year means that a writer, producing new words, must produce new words for one hour per day.
But wait!! What about days off, sick days, weekends, vacations from the hard grind????
All right, I know this profession is hard work, so let’s figure you only work five days per week and take two weeks off for vacation time. That means you have 247 working days in a year.
You want to finish four books each 80,000 words long. 320,000 words divided by 247 days = 1,296 words per day. Yup, you have to work an extra 15-20 minutes per day to allow yourself to take that time off and still produce four books per year. (1,296 words per day divided by 250 words every fifteen minutes = 1 hour, 20 minutes)
Wow, working an hour and twenty minutes per day, five days per week, with two weeks off just might kill a person.
Oh, for heaven’s sake, go ahead…. figure in rewriting time. At one hour and twenty minutes per day of actual typing, you have more than enough time. Say you did a major redraft and rewrite for each book. That’s another hour and twenty minutes.
Oh, wait, you have to rewrite it a third time. Add in another hour.
You are up to three hours forty minutes per day, five days per week.
And you might just get that computer screen cleaned a few times as well.
By the way, just so you know that I know what I am talking about, I wrote my first published novel in 1986 and it came out in 1988 from Warner. But for the moment let’s forget about that one and just start from my second novel written and published in 1992 after I got done with Pulphouse.
That was 19 years ago!!! (I didn’t need to think about that.) I have published 104 traditional novels now since 1992 (none indie published yet…all through New York companies). All of them were between 70,000 and 100,000 words.
That’s a 5.4 novels-per-year pace FOR NINETEEN YEARS.
So figuring 4 novels per year in my math post was cutting back for me.
(I just wish this new indie publishing world had existed in 1992 and I had been indie publishing all those books for those 19 years. Wow, would I be rich… Don’t think about it, Dean… just go clean your screen.)