Some Stats, and Other Relevant Things

I love reading about the writing process others go through. It’s so personal, so individual, and yet reading about how everyone else does it makes me want to try their way to see if it will work for me, or, I guess, work better for me. Dean Smith, in a workshop I was in, said something like “don’t ever say ‘I can’t write that way’ until you’ve actually tried to write that way. Until you have ten novels under your belt, you don’t have a clue how you can and cannot write.”

He was talking about “pantsing” versus “planning”, if I recall, but it doesn’t matter. I tell my students they should spend their lives trying to find out if there’s anything they can’t do. It’s that way with writing, for me. I want to know if I can’t do it, because a lot of the time I can, and I just don’t know it. So in case you’re curious about how I write, here are some stats, and some other observations, relevant especially because this month is Camp NaNoWriMo, and I’ll be finishing Knights of Insanity, my fourth (or fifth, depending on whether Repairers edits out to two novels instead of one) (or sixth, depending on whether you count Some Things are Faster than Light, which is really a novella/novelette at about 16,000 words) (and depending on whether you consider The Polka-Dot Door a novel, because it’s really a children’s book, and mostly pictures)

  • I write about 1600 words an hour, when I’m in the right environment. If I’m excited about what I’m doing, I have gotten to 1850.
  • I type about 45 words a minute, give or take, and my accuracy is about 90%.
  • I revise as I go for spelling and grammar.
  • I do not do plot revisions, although if I change a major element of the novel, I’ll often go back and fix a couple places where that makes a glaring difference.
  • I have never written a novel to an outline. All four of my completed novels to date are written entirely pantsed.
  • Knights will be outlined. Never say you can’t do it until you try. Also, the first three novels were so bloated by word content that I think it might be well to try reining myself in.
  • “the right environment” means by myself, in a room with soft lighting. I can play music (and often do), but I cannot have anyone there talking to me, and the TV cannot be on.
  • I write often in rooms that are less than ideal, and when I do I write about half as fast. In front of a baseball or soccer game, about 1000 words an hour, in front of football or basketball, 700 or so. I write nothing at all in front of Doctor Who or Sherlock. I mean, who could?
  • I have a writer’s notebook in which I record ideas for stories. I have so many I will never get them all written even if I never have another one. My physical notebook is leather-bound with creamy pages, and my virtual notebook is Evernote, which I access on my phone or iPad.

That will do for now. 47,977 words remaining to reach Camp NaNo success and finish this book.

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