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How fast do you write?
This is one of those trick questions :)
I talked about how nebulous it is to talk about writing a novel based on months and years and that generally hours is a better method for counting your progress. Hours will also help you get an idea of how many words you can write in a given period of time if you keep track of your time spent and progress made.
The average word count per hour across writers is something like 500 words.
Some writers I know can dump 1000 to 3000 words each hour onto the page. Generally these are writers who are big into editing or they are over-writers who then go back and cull many of those words back out. Not always, of course. Some of these writers have simply been heavily thinking about their scene for a long time so when they sit down, the scene flows out incredibly quickly.
Other writers are like me, and we write anywhere between 250-600 words per hour. For me, specifically, this is because I have a tendency to cycle. Cycling means one doesn’t start at the last sentence from the previous session, but rather goes back a chapter or scene and begins there. I’ll read and tweak and edit as I go and then when I get to where I left off last time, I’ll continue on, but now I’m immersed in the world and can get more words out. If I’m working through a full other hour or two, then my word count will go up during those hours because I’m no longer having the time-sink of the cycle. However! This means I’ll have more words to go through during my next writing session, so it’s a give and take.
I don’t mind being a writer with an average writing speed/slower writer because I get a ton of editing done during the writing phase, which gives me great pleasure because I’m not the biggest fan of editing once the story has all the words in place. At that point, I’m eager to be done and moved on to something else and must force myself to focus on clean up. As a metaphor, it’s like waking up the next morning after a party–if you clean up during the evening as things progress, clean up doesn’t seem too bad, but when you wake up and there’s a ton to do, you’re just…tired before you even start in on it all.
So I am not a fast writer by any means. If I want to draft something quickly, I must spend a great many hours on the project in a condensed time frame.
Stuart Danker said:
Sounds about right, 500 words per hour. This is assuming I already know what I want. Sometimes I dive into the blank page with zero idea of what’s going to happen, and that takes way longer, but is more fun. Anyway, thanks for this post!