Thursday, September 27, 2012


Wow, I haven't been here in just over two months.  I am terrible at keeping up, haha!

Well, some good news for any Medrick fans out there.  I've finally kicked my own derriere hard enough and got myself moving.  I didn't do any writing yesterday, but I wrote the 23rd, 24th, 25th and 27th and I wrote 7.5k new words for my next brainchild in the pipeline, Youth.

7,531 to be exact.

This is a novel, not a short story, and I'd say it's about half done word-count wise.  As in, I'm expecting it to clock in around 50k, and if you look at my handy little word count meter down there, you'll see it shows 48.88% completion.  So yaysies for that :)

I have to throw a good thanks out to Michael Kingswood.  Awhile back he posted on his blog about this handy little chart he made for himself that helped him track the actual costs of his book.  (I'd post the link if I had it handy, but I don't remember even what month he posted it in.)  Basically you put in your start time for writing, and your end time, and how many words you wrote in that time, and (at $50/hr, which I think is reasonable for a writer) it tells you how many copies of your book you have to sell at your desired price (that you set, it figures your royalty).

Wow, looking over that sentence it sounds confusing!  But it is really, really, cool.  And on top of that, it's deeply motivational to someone who thinks like me.  I'm pretty creative, but I also have a hard science side.  I like to see things happen, know results.  When I write, yeah, my word count goes up, and I know some hours here and there, but how much time am I actually spending?

What is the cost of my time?

As writers take the dropped ball from agents and publishers and have to look more at the business side of their craft, things like this become really important.

Say it took me a year to write a book.  (I know, I know.  A year?  What the hell am I doing?!?  Haha.)  As a business person, I'd have to ask myself: why?  When I take typing tests, I always clear 90+ wpm.

Say my novel is 50,000 words long.  Now say I type a flat 90wpm.  With that math, it takes me a little over 555 minutes to complete a novel.  Or, in another sense - less then 9 1/2 hours.

Now, why did a 9 1/2 hour project take me ONE YEAR to complete?

Okay, okay, I'll give a little slack.  I don't thunder-type for an hour straight at 90wpm when I'm writing a manuscript.  Sometimes I have to stop, and think.  Are my characters behaving realistically?  Do I have enough setting?  Can you see this scene, or is it vague?  Those questions take time to answer.  Also, sometimes I misspell words and backspace doesn't count toward your keystrokes, ha ha ha.

Here's another fun fact: The longer I sit at my computer, the less work I'm going to get done.

It sounds like baloney, but I think a lot of people will agree to being the same way.  If I were at a cubicle job, doing the same general tasks over and over, that's different - I constantly have something to do, with little variation.

But when I'm writing, worlds are flowering under my fingertips, through the imperfect filter of my own brain and vocabulary.

There's going to be hitches.

So I find, in the end, I write fantastically in small spurts.  Then - I walk away.  Yes, WALK AWAY!  I go play video games for an hour, or frisbee with the dog, or watch an episode of some random television show. I do something that clears the filter, and then I come back later.  Sometimes an hour, sometimes a day later.

Okay, so 7.5k of a 50k novel is 15%.  If it were a 9 1/2 hour project, I should have completed it in a mere 85 minutes!

Truth time?  It took me 4.06 hours.  (Another fun metric this spreadsheet tracks!)  BUT, those were a very productive 4 hours.  They weren't all at once, they were over 4 days.  Huh, that sounds suspiciously like the, "Write at least an hour a day" mantra I hear going around :P

Aaaaand, I don't manage to write 90wpm while writing.  My best day of those four, I wrote at a speed of (thank you, spreadsheet!) 2324.52 words/hr, or (haha) 38.7wpm.  I blame the thinking time variable!  (At that pace it would take me 21.5 hours to complete the first draft manuscript... still considerably more reasonable than the YEAR it supposedly took.)

But I guess the most important things to take away from this post are:
1. Write at a comfortable pace.
2. "Thinking" time can eat into your hours.
3. A novel shouldn't take a year to write.
4. If you wrote 1,000 words a day, every day for a year, you'd write 365,000 words, or more than 7, 50k novels.
5. Know your business!  Writing has a cost all its own!

And for anyone with a geeky maths and science side like me, have a gander!

And, now that you can all see it, I can't hide.  This is the truth about writing, for me.  I often don't spend more than a half hour at a time sitting still, and yes, each one of those sessions represents a complete chapter.


  1. Hi J. E.

    Thanks for the shot out. :)

    Just to help out, here's that post you were talking about:

    I find tracking my writing in that spreadsheet helps a lot. For financial account, obviously, but also as a sort of kick in the pants. Seeing how fast I REALLY write, it leaves me with little excuse to not get at least some minimal amount of writing done on a regular basis.

    And tracking data is just fun. It's the nerdy Engineer in me - I just love that sort of thing.

    Great to hear you're getting back to it so mightily. Looking forward to seeing your new work!

    Michael Kingswood

    Glimmer Vale - a fast, fun Fantasy adventure

    1. Thanks MK! I never would have guessed the correct month and found it, hahaa!