Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Reality of My Progress

After thinking about it last night and reading the comments to my previous word-count related posts, I think a little explanation is in order.

(And I'm not one of those people trying to downplay my accomplishments. Please remember however, they are mine, and each of us is different.)

First, I spent umpteen years as an Executive Secretary (that's a normal secretary who works for upper management - and I can plan a business meeting with the best of them, complete with the finest pastries and/or lunches, but that's beside the point). While it's true I never really did learn to touch-type like normal people, I have my own system of touch-typing, and I can really fly when I know what I want to type. I never really meant to be a secretary, but it certainly came in handy for this writing life I've chosen.

Second, this time around I know exactly what I want to write. Aside from meaning my fingers fly faster, it also means I'm not bogged down trying to find the right wording - it's already there. It doesn't always work this way. Sometimes I'm slogging through mud trying to figure out what comes next, or how the hell I got sidetracked talking about my MC's great aunt Bertie and how to get back to the main plot. I went back to my spreadsheet, and in the same amount of time last year, I averaged 1278 words a day on Blink. (That's 21 days worth of writing, not counting days off, which were more frequent for Blink. I took nine days off over the course of a month for Blink, and only 6 days off for R2L - five of those because I was sick.)

Third, and related to the above, each book is different just like each writer is different. I've had other people act as if my word counts somehow reflect poorly on them. As if my writing two-thousand words in a day versus their 500 words means they're not as much a writer as I am. P'shaw. The only thing that makes you a writer is whether you're committed to writing. Obviously if this thing is just a lark for you, you need to rethink your stance on being a writer, but how many people reading this blog are just doing this for kicks? I'd venture not many.

Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, I don't work outside the house. If I want to spend an entire day writing, I do so. (Sometimes to the exclusion of a clean house and well-fed family, but thems the breaks.) This also means I have very little distracting my brain from the ideas flowing through it. I don't have to worry about whether shipping will get the product out on time, whether sales will bring in enough orders to make payroll next month, whether the receptionist is on her break diddling the stockboy in the bathroom. I just have to worry about my daughter (and at her age, the worries are few - she's self contained, and needs little direction now), and my writing. My hubby takes care of himself, and the cat only requires minimal attention to keep her from shredding the carpet on the stairs. What this all boils down to, is I have huge amounts of time to write. Sometimes when I think about all the time I have when I should be writing and I'm not, 750 or 1500 or 2500 words a day seems pitiful. If I kept my nose to the grindstone, I could crank out 7500 (I did it one day when I was writing Spectacle - which was also while my daughter was still going to public school). Of course, if I did 7500 a day, I'd be so burnt out Kingsford would want to package me as the latest barbeque briquette.

Anyway, please remember we all do this at our own pace. How about we change the nudge below to read 'commit to writing or some writerly endeavor like editing or querying or synopsizing every day for the next month', and see how it works out. I know when I joined a gang of other writers at this time last year, and made a similar commitment I was surprised by how much my production improved. You could be surprised, too.


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