Blogger: Wendy Lawton
A few years ago I accompanied Julie Klassen, one of my authors, on a week-long book tour. One of the best things about spending time in bookstores is that, among all the readers there to get autographs, we meet other writers. We savor the opportunity to talk about writing.
At one stop I remember we talked about different writing styles. Someone mentioned the writers who had just completed NaNoWriMo— National Novel Writing Month. (Also known as November.) That’s when an author writes an entire book in a month. That’s right– one month! For those authors who did it, I can picture you checking to see if you still have a marriage, cleaning out the pizza boxes piled in the garage and trying to make your legs work again. But, bravo!
That led to talking about how many words most of us write in a day. Julie does about 5000 words a day when she is first drafting. My friend Debbie Macomber has the same daily page goal– 20 pages per day, four days a week.[Note: a manuscript page with one inch margins, double-spaced, equals 250 words. So when an author talks pages rather than words, it’s easy to do the math. When a writer talks pages, however, he is not referring to printed book pages– these vary widely depending on the print size, the trim size, etc. When a writer talks about how many pages his manuscript is or how many pages he’s done, he is always referring to manuscript pages. These days, with the word count served up by our word processing programs, we more often talk in number of words rather than page count.]
I mentioned a full time writer friend who has a daily word count goal of 1200 words. We started to roll our eyes at the measly word count until my husband, Keith, took out his calculator and pointed out that a writer who did only 1200 words a day for 365 days would end up with 438,000 words a year. We all gulped. That would be more than four first drafts a year!
Now of course, no one is going to write for seven days a week but say the writer writes five days a week, taking two weeks off for vacation and a week at Christmas. That’s still 294,000 words a year. And at 1200 words a day there’s plenty of time left to revise, work on galleys and do marketing, right?
As someone who always crammed for exams and worked like a maniac closer to deadlines– I used to say I could do 5000 words a day with gusts up to 7500– this method of slow and steady seems like a miracle. What would life feel like with no guilt from procrastination?
My confession? I totally procrastinated on writing my blog. It’s 4:00 in the morning and I woke out of a sound sleep to remember– the blog!
So how about you? What’s your work style? Are you slow and steady? How about fast and steady? What are the pros and cons?