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How fast do you write?

It depends on what I'm writing, my surrounds, and the state of my head). On my worst days, when the noise is too loud and i'm battling to get out of bed, it can take a day to get one word out. On a good day I've been known to write around 1500 in an hour (though it will need editing). Generally I don't worry about my speed - I just worry about prying words out of my muses hands.


I write excruciatingly slowly, most of the time. It's hard for me to stay focused, so I write one sentence and get distracted, then come back and write another sentence, get distracted again, ad nauseum. Most days I clock in at about 500 words (and even that is a hopeful estimate). I've learned to worry less about my wordcount and more about the substance of what I've written.


I've never tracked my speed, but I'd say that I can do about 800-1000 words an hour on a good day.
Of course, good days are rare. I would like to present to you all an audio recording of my brain on a typical day:
I read this and I am amazed at how much you all get done. I am a slow writer. I write about 2000 words a day. This is because I think about the part I am writing and go through several a couple of drafts before I type it out. I am happy with this pace.


If on a roll I can easily type 1,000 or so words in an hour, whether they are good words or not is another matter. I'm like a racehorse. Good a short, fast bursts and because of that I tire quicker and have to take a break.
Why does everyone talk about words per hour? I always thought that the standard was words per minute.

2019-12-01 10:49 5 minutes words: 61 wpm: 12
2019-12-01 10:44 5 minutes words: 60 wpm: 12
2019-12-01 10:39 5 minutes words: 105 wpm: 21
2019-12-01 10:34 5 minutes words: 70 wpm: 14
2019-11-30 17:21 15 minutes words: 123 wpm: 8
2019-11-30 17:06 15 minutes words: 99 wpm: 7
2019-11-30 14:35 15 minutes words: 13 wpm: 1
2019-11-30 14:24 10 minutes words: 123 wpm: 12
2019-11-30 14:09 15 minutes words: 97 wpm: 6
2019-11-30 12:43 15 minutes words: 372 wpm: 25
2019-11-30 12:33 10 minutes words: 253 wpm: 25
2019-11-30 12:22 10 minutes words: 288 wpm: 29
2019-11-30 12:11 10 minutes words: 289 wpm: 29
2019-11-30 12:05 5 minutes words: 98 wpm: 20
Why does everyone talk about words per hour? I always thought that the standard was words per minute.
I think the standard for typists is indeed words per minute. The reason for me to focus on words per hour is that it's a lot more consistent. I can easily sit for a couple of minutes staring out the window thinking of what happens next and then writing that in one go. In that instance, words per minute is not actually a useful measure, given that it could easily be 0, 0, 0, 50, 50. Words per hour on the other hand, seems reasonably consistent. It creeps up a bit once I get deeper into a story, so I move from 500 to 750. But it's a good measure for my progress.


If I'm really rolling it out I can write about 750 words in an hour, but generally it's more like 500 words in an hour. I don't really pay attention.

I don't have a "words per day" metric, because I don't count up my daily work that way. My goal is to write a scene. that could be a 600 word scene or a 2500 word scene. I don't know until it's done.


Finished my first draft of 10k words, and I think I am doing about 1000 words per hour. I'm actually quite surprised how fast that is. Though I already know so many changes I want to do that I am rewriting those chapters from scratch instead of atempting to edit them.


1000-1200 words per day on weekdays, twice that on weekend days. In a really good, 10-12 hour day when I'm in the zone I can get 5000 words but I'm usually exhausted the next day and don't write again for a few days, so it all averages out.

If you're reading this and thinking, "Oh! A book every 90 days!" well, the trick to this is that I don't do fiddly little edits. I do full, blank-page rewrites for each draft, 3-4 drafts for every book. So it's about a year of serious, beat-your-brains-in, bloody-fingernails-and-broken-keyboards writing to get one manuscript ready for what is then another 4-6 months of structural, line, and copyediting, plus proofreading, beta reading, ARCs, final changes, typesetting, and final proofreading.

I just learned that this current book is going to have to go to prepublication and security review through the Executive Security Directorate, since it centers around contemporary intelligence tradecraft, which is going to add God Knows How Many months to my release date. Probably mid-2021 if I hurry. I'm thinking I'm going to just send them this draft and not change anything in the tradecraft in future drafts unless they tell me.

Anyway, I'm behind schedule. Back to it . . .
I just stumbled on this blog post: How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day. Which puts this discussion in an interesting perspective.

The main thing which speeds up writing mentioned in that post, which I noticed for myself as well, is that if you know what you're going to write you write faster. The scenes where I know what's happening before I start writing fly on the page, while scene's where I'm stumbling in the dark are a struggle and write much slower. Of course, it differs for everyone. But I'll try taking a couple of minutes before I start writing to map out a scene and see what impact that has on my writing.


I really like the advice about how if you know what you're writing about you write faster, and it can be true, and I've used it to write faster. but these days I don't use it to write faster. I use it to write the "best first draft" I can.

that runs counter to a lot of writing advice to just write the first draft fast without worrying about perfection. that's really good advice. it's especially good advice to people who have never written a novel before, or have only written one and are still at the beginning of figuring out their process. But now that I have finished multiple novels, my process asks for something different.

process is ever-changing. it's pretty neat.


I average and strive for 1.5k an hour. I track my writing time, and it takes me about 100 hours of actual work to produce a 100k novel. This includes outlining, an editing pass where I address a developmental editor's concerns, a line editing pass, and a copy editing pass. I farm out an additional line editing pass and a copy editing pass.


Doing 1000 to 1500 words in one evening seems to be a pretty stable speed for me now.

Though I also discovered that I clearly have no problem with cutting stuff. I always see a good amount of advice to improve stories by cutting scenes thst don't serve the story or tightening up the beginning to not drag on for too long before things really get going.
Good to know that I don't have a problem with that. :D

I've probably written 50,000 words so far, but I am currently at 9,000. The rest has all been cut. Saying I am at 9,000 words doesn't sound as glamorous, but I think it's actually better progress than being at 40,000 words that are mostly distracting bloat.