This morning I'm going to see how long it takes me to write this blog post plus the scenes I've planned for my morning writing session, by using the Pomodoro timer on Marinanratimer.com. The timer gives me writing sessions of 25 minutes with 5 minute breaks, and (if I remember correctly) a 15-minute break after I finish four sessions. I can also pause it if I need to do something that won't wait until my break, like answer the phone or the call of Nature.
Why time myself? It's been a while since I have, and I need to know (on average) how much writing I can do in a day, a week and a month to better plan my work schedule. For example: I wrote a total of 6,159 words of fiction and a 563-word blog post on Monday, and that's a pretty typical writing day for me. But I didn't keep track of my time writing, so I can't tell you exactly how long it took me to write it. Maybe ten hours, maybe twelve -- I'm really not sure. I had some productive sprints, during which I can write up to 1,500 words an hour, but also had more than one draggy sessions where I likely only knocked out 500 words. There was also an hour where I edited everything I'd written.
Right now I'm at the halfway point of my 25 minute session, and I've written 238 words. That's close to twenty words a minute, which puts me at 1,200 words per hour -- a little faster than I usually write, but blog posts are easy -- I just write off the top of my head and add coding for applicable links. Could I write faster? Sure. But it's not really about speed, it's about consistency. I like to get into a productive rhythm with the writing where I feel comfortable + I'm getting work done at an acceptable pace. Once I know how long that takes me, I can forecast the work I'll probably get done and alter my schedule accordingly.
In November I'll be working on two novels, one for NaNoWriMo and one for work. I already know I need to write a minimum of 5K per day. I'll probably do more so I can take off on Thanksgiving. But having timed myself, I'll also know how long I have to block off every day for writing. It's not perfect -- I'll write slower when I feel like crap, and faster when I get into the zone, but those highs and lows tend to balance out for me.
One neat thing about this timer site is that the tab for it shows you the time if you're working in multiple windows. Right now I have three minutes left before my break. I also just deleted a long sentence that made no sense, so I'm not padding my results -- just the opposite. This exercise is not about how much you can do in 25 minutes, but what you'd actually write on any day -- and on any day I do delete about 5% of what I write while I'm writing it.
Thirty seconds: I'm feeling a little more awake now, and a little more focused. Timers do that for me, too. And now I've reached my five minute break (announced by a handy little chime.)
Total: 562 words in twenty-five minutes.
I think I'll use my break to make a cup of tea and get the laundry started. Also, just to note, there are two other timers on the site you can use; one is customizable, and the other is just like a kitchen timer -- set it and forget it.