More than 1,000 words an hour? Longed for, reached, hated it

So, I spent a lot of time getting myself to the point of writing 1,000 words an hour. I longed for the days when I could easily associate 1 hour of writing time to 1,000 words. It makes math super easy when I’m trying to figure out how much longer I have on a book. I can guarantee 15–30 minutes downtime for every 1 hour I spend writing … so calculations are easy.

The problem is, the writing for those days read the same as my long-running 600 words an hour average, but the joy I got from writing the words decreased significantly. I felt an unaccountable level of pressure as I typed out every word, forcing myself to keep typing when I would have taken a break and let my fingers rest on the keys. I think the writing was the same, but the process was completely unnatural for me.

I write in bursts: I sit, think, my mind wanders, and then I type, type, type, and then I do the same thing all over again. Catch my wind, so to speak.

Was I just experiencing the natural phase of fatigue and pain as my metaphorical writing muscles stretch and burn before they strengthen? I have no idea. I’m not sure I want to find out. I actually found myself avoiding writing in the days following those 1,000 words an hour days, because I didn’t want to have to work that hard again.

Sigh. I think I need to push through though. I think of my family and friends working at their jobs and I imagine they’re not going to be that sympathetic to me not being able to keep my fingers moving at a rate of 16.6 words per minute. In fact, they might laugh at me.*

My typing speed is around 66–78 words a minute so if I were typing up a dictated report in a different kind of job, the 16.6 words per minute rate implies I’d be spending 13 minutes at my normal typing speed to write those 1000 words and do that 1 hour’s worth of work. Then I’d sit in the break room or surf the internet the other 47 minutes.

I definitely have to strengthen those muscles. It’s idiocy to settle for 600 words an hour. I just need more practice getting to 1,000 so it becomes as easy as the 600 has.**

*I’d laugh at me.

**Update: Failure with this goal has plagued me for most of the year! I wonder if I have what it takes to ever write more than 500–600 words an hour. :(

4 thoughts on “More than 1,000 words an hour? Longed for, reached, hated it”

  1. I’m trying to push my production rate too.
    I have a bad habit of feast/then famine. I will write a ton one week then next to nothing the next. I’d be much more productive if I trained myself to a set amount of words each day. So that’s what I am trying to do now.

    In my case, I can write 1000 words an hour quite easily. In fact, I average more like 1300 words an hour, but this is only for the first draft. I hate, HATE that first draft. So the easiest way for me to handle it is to hammer it down as fast as possible, without thinking about it, without second guessing myself- just letting the story and characters go and write the scenes as fast as possible. By the end of the draft I have the characters and story.

    In the second draft, or first revision, I average more like 600 words an hour. And I write exactly as you described. I’ve tried increasing the word count per hour, but I end up not writing at all the next day because I’m like creatively exhausted. I’m planning on trying to increase the hours now, rather than the words. See if that makes a difference. Instead of four hours a day, working up to six and then eight. Then maybe nine.

    1. I’m also just going to focus on the hours writing now, instead of the pressure to produce at a certain rate per hour. I write a clean first draft. I don’t revise much later, if at all. If I mess up or something new comes up, I fix it right then, and then move on. That’s just my way, the only way I’ve found where I actually finish the things I start. Since finishing is well over half the battle, I just do what works to get me there. :)

      I’ve been trying to get to 5,000 a day on a regular basis, but so far I just can’t seem to break that wall. I’d like to some day get to 6 or 7 but first I have to get that 5,000. I honestly don’t see why I can’t. I’ve done the numbers every which way to Sunday and it should be possible. I guess it boils down to me being lazy. :) But then I remind myself I’ve published 116,000 words this year and written 135,000+ so I can’t be that lazy. It’s hard to remember sometimes though when I go days without writing, much like you describe going through.

  2. How about that! 5K is my goal too! Once I reach that goal consistently, I want to increase the WC too, little by little until I’m writing in the 7K range.

    For me I think it’s a matter of focus. Of working those writing muscles a little more every day until I can focus for longer and longer periods of time. I don’t think it’s a matter of laziness, I think its more a matter of working the writing muscles. Conditioning them, if you will, rather like you’d condition your legs/body when you first start running. This is the big thing I never expected when I started writing full time. The hours are there, I was planning to treat writing like a full time job. But writing takes such intense concentration, I wear my brain out much quicker each day than I expected. :(

    I’ve even signed up for those brain games called Luminosity to see if they help train my brain to focus for longer lengths of time, like they claim in their commercials.

    1. Oh, I completely agree. There’s this part of me that questions whether I’m asking too much of myself but this other part of me that says quite loudly that I’m not asking enough. Getting down to the writing is the single biggest obstacle I face.

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