So last night and this morning I read Writing in Overdrive (which I really liked, btw) and I came away from the book with the feeling that maybe I don’t know what “fast” means when it comes to writing.
I’ve been daydreaming about hitting daily word counts of 5,000 and 6,000 for a while, and there’s definitely this part of me that thinks this should be a daily thing. Maybe weekends off. But maybe not.
And I have to ask myself, in what world is this realistic?
What kind of writer writes 5,000 words every day? That’s 1,825,000 words a year.
Where’d I get the idea that this is something I even want?
I mean, I could write a new novel every month at around 2,000 words a day. A new novel every month.
At 4,000 words a day, I’d be pumping out two novels everymonth. Or one massive 120,000 word novel.
I have no idea why I’ve fixated on 5,000 words a day. No idea.
When I won NaNoWriMo in 2010 with just a hair over 50,000 words, I thought I’d done something amazing. When I decided to go back to writing original works so I could try publishing in 2012, I thought I was really accomplishing something when I wrote 56,287 words in two months. I was so sure I was writing a significant enough number of words that I quit my job to start writing full-time. Let me repeat that: I quit my job based on me being able to write about 25,000 words a month.
I have to wonder when I decided it was such a great idea to put so much pressure on myself that I feel like I’ve started to avoid writing, even though I love writing stories. Why have I let my critical self run roughshod over my creative self by focusing so strongly on word counts and hourly output and self-imposed deadlines?
What have I been thinking?
Then there’s the idea that I’m a slow writer at my average 551 words per hour.
I’ve been dreaming of consistently writing 1,000 words an hour for a while now. I’ve done it a few times, but I don’t like it when I push for it. It’s happened a few times when I haven’t pushed for it, and those times were fun. But when I tried to force it? It was too stressful, and I didn’t like how it felt at all. It made writing very much unfun.
There were several passages within Writing in Overdrive that made me question what kind of hourly output I should be expecting from myself.
In chapter 1, Jim Denney talks about Ray Bradbury:
He averaged about five and a half typing hours per day, totaling 49 hours of typewriter time at a cost of about $9.80 in dimes. His daily output averaged about 2,800 words. “It was a passionate and exciting time for me,” he recalled in an article for UCLA Magazine.
Bradbury believes in writing quickly, intuitively, explosively, and passionately.
I’m left wondering if 2,800 words in five and a half hours is considered fast? If not fast, I think it’s safe to assume from the context that it’s not slow. At just over 514 words an hour that means…
I’m plenty fast enough.
I actually feel a lot better.
It’s really time I stop worrying about how “fast” a writer I am and just get back to having fun when I write so I can develop a good, strong writing habit.
Also, I definitely feel like I made the right decision to drop the time quota. :)
Set goals that are focused on creativity and productivity, not merely on putting in the time. “I will write from nine until noon” is not a goal — it’s a schedule.
LOL. You better believe I highlighted that. ;)