How Long Does It Take to Write 1,000 Words?

stopwatchThat search shows up here more frequently than any other except searches for my name.

Here are a few answers:

  1. At a typing speed of 25WPM, about average for a nonprofessional,
    1,000 ÷ 25 = 40 minutes
    At a more professional speed of 50WPM, it’s 20 minutes. If you’re my wife and type 80WPM it’s less than 13 minutes. This is the least meaningful answer I have.
  2. My scenes tend to run about 1,000 words. Most writers manage 2,000 per scene, but I’ve tried adjusting my stance and leaning toward the plate, and I’m still not hitting it, so I do what I do. One scene, about 1,000 words, takes me about an hour, because although I type 50WPM I also pause sometimes to ruminate on the next bit. Sometimes I can blaze away for 90 minutes nonstop, but that’s the exception. The rule is, about an hour for a 1,000-word scene.
  3. The writer who pauses to fix every typo, polish every sentence, adjust the punctuation, and carefully balance sentence lengths, paragraph lengths, and whatever else they balance, all the while keeping one eye on the word count meter, will take a week. Or a day. Or a month. Or forever. I don’t know. At this point, it’s the wrong question.
  4. How long does it take to write 1,000 good words? Still the wrong question.
  5. How long does it take to write a 1,000-word story? Good question. I write what I call 1-Page Classics. I shoot for 1,000 words. They take me about 3 hours, start to finish, idea to polished prose.
  6. Now we’re talking about storytelling, real writing, and not word count. How long does it take to write 1,000 words of good story, in addition to all the words you already have? It depends on whether you’re in the flow, brain dumping a scene you envisioned en tableau, and spend half an hour, or grinding your way through a vital slice that weighs heavily on your emotions, dredging up doubt and anguish from past pains and future fears. That might take all day, all week, even.
  7. What if you haven’t even started yet? Your first 1,000 words might flow like mad, at nearly typing speed (20 to 40 minutes.) If you spent some time planning, or if an idea gripped you and won’t let go till you spill, that’s feasible. Otherwise, if something doesn’t feel right, either because you didn’t stop to celebrate finishing a novel yesterday, don’t have an idea what this one is about, or need to get paid so it doesn’t matter, you just need to get the blasted thing written, we’re back to hours, maybe days.
  8. One last answer: sit down at your computer, start a timer, and write until the word count meter says 1,000. Check the timer. There’s your answer. Not the dumbest answer, but perhaps the least satisfying.

How long does it take you to write 1,000 words?

Learn to Love Marketing, or Give Your Books Away (or Both)

left, right, or middle?Almost every author I talk to wishes someone else would sell their books for them. The few exceptions are those who, by nature or training, enjoy marketing their books. They’ve learned enough to have a plan and to execute it consistently, persistently.

Even my wife‘s clients, who pay her large sums for social media marketing for their books, engage fully in the process. Those who don’t quickly become frustrated because she isn’t selling their books well enough, not realizing that’s not how it works (despite having that clearly explained at the outset.)

Here’s the good news: if you hate marketing and you don’t want to sell your books, you don’t have to spend another second on marketing.

… more … “Learn to Love Marketing, or Give Your Books Away (or Both)”

Two Kids Walk Into An Open Mic

Joel plays bassA handful of years ago we were regulars at open mic in a suburb of Sacramento. Some of the performers were excellent musicians and singers; real artists.

Some, not so much.

One night two young boys, the older probably 15 and the younger 10 or 11, came in with their electric guitars. They used a recorded rhythm section backing track and played along and sang.

From a purely musical perspective, they were not very good.

I had seen something, though.

… more … “Two Kids Walk Into An Open Mic”

Who Are You Writing For? (It Isn’t Really Either/Or)

I should turn that into a song, eh?

vegComes up sometimes in discussion boards: write for yourself and find artistic fulfillment, or write for your audience and sell books?

Here’s what comes up in the research of Chip and Dan Heath, experts in the brain science of decision-making: avoid either/or thinking when making decisions. Consider more than two opposing options.

Today, consider taking a page from CompSci (that’s computer science for the 99.9% of you who’ve managed to elude its evil grasp.)

But first, let’s make soup. … more … “Who Are You Writing For? (It Isn’t Really Either/Or)”

It’s Just a Song (Not an Autobiography)

Listening to David Gray while we made pancakes together I found myself wondering about some of the things he believes.

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/951615 by ilco http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ilcoWhich makes no sense because I know writers of all kinds have their characters or the voice of their song saying or doing things that aren’t necessarily aligned with their core beliefs. While Web Martin and Jake Calcutta are more like me than they ought to be, I know I’ve written things in my songs that aren’t beliefs I put into practice every day. In fact, the more I allow myself to put words in my character’s mouths or express opinions in my songs which aren’t my own, the more depth and breadth my writing will take on and possibly the more I will understand people who think and feel and say those things.

… more … “It’s Just a Song (Not an Autobiography)”

Finding Why (#6 of 6 Tools to Write)

#6 in a series of 6

It’s easy to lose track of why you wanted to be a writer in the first place. If you have vague dreams of fame or fortune, those won’t keep you going, especially when they don’t materialize quickly.

writing is the tool I use to understand what's important in my lifeWhile we’d all love to be rich and famous, I don’t think that’s why you write. It’s not why I write.

I write because I love the feel of words. I write because I have feelings which are clarified only when I find words to put them in. I have ideas which might benefit others. I have questions.

I believe writing takes the vague, wandering abstracts out of my head and makes them clear, understandable things I can look at and play with. I believe it helps me decide whether they should remain part of my life or be forgotten in the drawer.

… more … “Finding Why (#6 of 6 Tools to Write)”

Self-Publishing: It’s Not Settling, It’s a Choice

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1133804 by Sigurd Decroos http://www.cobrasoft.be/photography.aspxThough the article is too long and wandering to use in today’s newsletter, there are some salient quotes in Ether for Authors: Is It Time for Publishing to Call a Truce? Porter Anderson quotes Dr. Florian Geuppert of Hamburg-based Books on Demand. The emphasis in both quotes is mine:

We have surveyed 1,800 of our 25,0000 [sic] authors in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and Scandinavia … About one-third of the authors we surveyed made a conscious choice against traditional publishing … We can identify three big groups. The first is the hobby authors. Then there are professional writers. And then there are the experts, who use self-publishing to share their expertise—being a coach, being a scientist, being a business person.
All of them across the groups said their reasons for self-publishing are first, creative freedom and control over their rights and content; second, it’s the ease of the process; third, it’s basically fun … and the desire to self-publish is even higher among professional writers.

One third of authors surveyed (by a print-on-demand company, we should note) made self-publishing their first choice.

Does that really mean the other two-thirds settled for something less than their real goal, traditional publishing?

A number of points come to mind:

  1. Don’t settle. If you want a traditional publishing deal, I think you’re wasting your time and effort, but if you still want it, don’t settle. You’ll never ever ship art that’s worth anything if you settle.
  2. Why do the majority of authors who end up self-publishing still consider it a second choice? Do they think they’ll make less money? Earn less fame? Have to work harder? Deliver an inferior product?
  3. Is fun the difference? Is this adventurous spirit where the split happens? Are we looking at, not business choices, but personalities?

Self-publishing is not automatically second-rate, second-class, second choice.

You can help prove this by producing a top quality book: the writing, editing, formatting, design, all of it.

I’m holding myself to a higher standard with all my books next year.

What could you do better with your books?

Year-Long Workshop: Get Your Book Out of the Someday Box in 2014

was this place new when you started your novel?What if I could lead you by the hand and promise that in 2014 you’d finally finish that novel?

What’s more, what if I gave you greatly increased chances that it would be good?

Is that worth paying for?

Details to come.

Authors Dare Greatly

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/860593 by Sebastian Wendowski http://www.sxc.hu/profile/seebitsI want you to write your book. Not the vague generic “you” of the unnamed faces of possible readers of my blog.

I mean you, the specific person reading this right now.

I want you to be a hero.

Have you ever seen a little kid stand up to a bully? Everyone else meekly stands by, angry, but too scared to speak up.

There are bullies who want to frighten you into submission. To prevent you from writing your book. They don’t want to hear what you have to say because they don’t care what you have to say.

Stand up to the bullies. Speak out.

Write your book.

What if you fail? What’s the worst thing that can happen? You won’t die. Your loved ones won’t die.

Trust me, the worst thing that can happen is that your book will writhe in anguished silence on a lonely shelf.

But you won’t die.

Consider the opposite: what if you succeed? What if even one solitary stranger buys your book, trusts your description of it and the cover and the excerpts and all that, and shells out their hard-earned money for your book?

There are few greater glories.

But that’s not the opposite of failing. Whether your book dies on a shelf or gloriously enlivens another human being, there’s something far worse.

What happens if you don’t write your book?

Not “what happens to your book?” because there is no book.

What happens to you?

What happens if you let the bullies out there, or the toughest bully, the one inside your head, intimidate you out of your art?

What happens if you go to your grave with this book unborn?

A miscarriage is a tragic event in part because it’s invisible. We have endured such things, my Best Beloved and I, and it’s not possible to convey the level of hurt to someone who hasn’t experienced it.

If your book is never written, we might never miss the book.

But we’ll see it in your eyes. We’ll hear it in your voice. That dead, flat spot in your soul, where you’d have contentment and peace and a certain amount of joy, if only you’d write that book.

Every time you hear about a new book, every time a friend or distant acquaintance says hey, I wrote a book, every time you look in the mirror, you’ll know:

I have a book dead inside me.

Resurrection. Birth. These are eternal themes in literature for a reason: the acts of creation are Divine gifts that make us human, make us more than animal, only slightly less than gods.

Every single person who has ever written a book has dared greatly, no matter what the proportion of perceived success accrued to them.

Authors dare greatly.

Every author dares greatly.

Dare greatly.

Please.

Write ‘Em All and Let the Market Sort ‘Em Out

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1420666 by Vaughan Willis http://www.sxc.hu/profile/BonganiHere is why anyone is allowed to write a book despite the outcry from traditional publishing. It’s why a market full of substandard books doesn’t destroy anything.

Let’s use something entirely different as an analogy.

Let’s say somebody wants to open a new restaurant in town. The other 10 restaurateurs suspect the new chef doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Does that give them the right to prevent that restaurant from opening? I think not.

Let’s go extreme.

… more … “Write ‘Em All and Let the Market Sort ‘Em Out”