In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* The Secret to Being Prolific, Part 2
* Of Interest
Quotes of the Day
“‘Can’t’ never did anything.” My stepmom, about 65 years ago when I complained that I couldn’t do something. As usual, she was right.
“Can’t died in the house of trying.” Yvonne C. (via Bob B.)
“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty.” Erich Fromm
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” Kurt Vonnegut
“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.” Albert Einstein
No fiction writing here yesterday. Went to SV, ate more than I should have, didn’t feel like writing when I got back. (grin) I’ll write today.
The Secret to Being Prolific, Part 2
As I wrote in Part 1 of this post, becoming prolific as a fiction writer has nothing to do with speed or how fast you type. It has everything to do with how much time you spend in the chair. And believe it or not, it’s all simple math.
For most jobs, you’re expected to work 8 hours per day, maybe with up to an hour off for lunch. That’s still 7 hours per day, usually five days per week.
If you did that as a writer and took an hour off for lunch, you’d produce 7000 words per day. Even if you took weekends off, that’s 35,000 words per week. That’s a short novel.
But to be clear, that’s if you spend the time WRITING, which means putting new words on the page.
Note: this includes time for cycling—a quick read-through with the creative subconscious during which the fingers rest on the keyboard and the characters add or correct things they missed as the story was unfolding—but it does not include time for revision or rewriting or any of the other silly myth-driven actions that are functions of the conscious, critical mind.
We fiction writers are blessed. Some of use are even spoiled. If we turn out even a 60,000 word novel twice a year, we’re considered “prolific.”
Think about that. In the first 7 months of 2022, I wrote 13 novels, an average of one every 14 days. So I could literally work 4 weeks—28 days—per year, write two 60,000-word novels during that time, then take the other 48 weeks off and be considered a prolific fiction writer. I’d have to write, on average, 4286 words per day. That’s four hours per day, focused on Story.
Again, it’s all math. There are 52 weeks in a year. If we write only five days per week, that’s 260 days per year. So to write two 60,000 word novels over a period of a year would require us to show up to work only five days per week for only a half-hour per day (462 words per day). Not a bad gig, is it?
If you want to actually BE prolific (vs. simply being considered prolific by those who don’t have a clue), first, let’s back away from spending 7 or 8 hours per day in the chair. After all, as too many of us say, we don’t have a “real” job and we have a life.
So let’s say we go half-time. Say we show up and do our job only three or four hours per day. Even if we still only show up five days per week, that’s 15,000 to 20,000 words per week, or 780,000 to 1,040,000 words per year.
Yes. That’s over one million words per year, working only 4 hours per day, five days per week. And if we show up only 2 hours per day, five days per week to practice our chosen profession, that’s still 10,000 words per week and 520,000 words per year. That’s 4 and 1/3 120,000 word novels or 8 and 2/3 60,000 word novels per year. Now THAT’s prolific. Math doesn’t lie.
But I’m not recommending you sit for three or four hours at a stretch. Take a break at least once every hour, even if it’s only to get up and walk away and back.
Likewise, if you have non-writing chores to do, you can attend to those too. Write for an hour, do something else, then come back and write for another hour. The lesson here is to Keep Coming Back. Show your chosen profession the respect and dedication it deserves.
Again, it’s all simple math.
To write a 120,000 word novel in 3 months requires no more than an hour and a half of writing per day. That’s 1333 words per day on average for 90 straight days or 1464 words words per day on average for 82 days (taking weekends off).
So why aren’t all novelists writing at least 4 novels per year?
I honestly don’t know, except that so many, including me at one time, have fallen for the bullshi* that you can’t write a good story without input from a bunch of other people, and without involving the conscious, critical mind to second guess everything your creative subconscious creates.Yet if you stop to really think about that, the inanity of it will strike you full force.
If you believe in yourself as a capable human being, and if you trust your characters and enjoy recording the story as you watch it unfold, you really are limited only by how fast you can type or speak into a voice recorder. Erle Stanley Gardner, the pulp writer who created Perry Mason, dictated up to 10,000 words of fiction in a day. Of course, he had a typist to transcribe it for him, but still. The sky really is the limit.
If you don’t trust your characters, well, then while you’re hovering in place over that one novel, second-guessing your characters and moving farther from your unique, original voice, prolific writers will be turning out 4 or 6 or 12 or 24 novels per year.
It really is all up to you. I hope for your sake you will choose not to bend to the unreasoning fear. Remember, can’t never did anything.
Talk with you again then.
See “Forgot One Thing… Writing” (comments) at https://deanwesleysmith.com/forgot-one-thing-writing/#comments.
See “More IP Valuation” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/more-ip-valuation/. Including a fun little quiz.
See “Parody under copyright and trade mark law…” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/parody-under-copyright-and-trade-mark-law-key-guidance-from-zorro-and-the-italian-supreme-court/.
The Journal…………………………………… 1010 words
Writing of Wes Crowley: Deputy US Marshal (WCG8SF3)
Day 1…… 2815 words. Total words to date…… 2815
Day 2…… 2034 words. Total words to date…… 4849
Day 3…… 2650 words. Total words to date…… 7499
Day 4…… 2209 words. Total words to date…… 9708
Day 5…… 4214 words. Total words to date…… 13922
Day 6…… 2299 words. Total words to date…… 16221
Day 7…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 18357
Day 8…… 1688 words. Total words to date…… 20045
Day 9…… 2712 words. Total words to date…… 22757
Total fiction words for January……… 13049
Total fiction words for 2023………… 13049
Total nonfiction words for January… 5240
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 5240
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 18289
Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 71
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer because of my zen-like non-process. If you want to learn it too, either hang around or download my Journal Archives at https://hestanbrough.com/the-daily-journal-archives/, read them, and try WITD for yourself. The archives are free.