Thursday, January 13, 2005


When I write in the zone -- that wonderful place where there is nothing but writing, and it all comes out onto the page without a hitch -- I generally produce between three to four thousand words per hour. I spend a lot of time in the zone, too. Earlier in the week I finished out the day with 26K in new words.

I've been pondering writing speed because I mentioned that total to my best friend, who asked me how I'm able to write so fast. I don't think I'm all that fast. 26K sounds hefty, until you consider that I type 90 wpm. Working at top speed, I should be able to write 5400 words per hour, or 64,800 words per 12 hour work session. Not happening. 26K in 12 hours = 2.16K per hour, or about 36 wpm. On my best days, I'm producing roughly one-third of what I'm physically capable of writing.

Obviously writing is more than typing. I also have this thing called a life that regularly gets between me and the keyboard. Even I have to be (cough) realistic, beat back the inner beast who doesn't think I work fast enough (free to a good home, or even a lousy one; anybody want her?) and be content with what I can do.

I can be content. If I work at it. Quit laughing.

Evidently I don't go through what many other writers do in the act of writing. I've seen them write, and my forehead never ties itself into a knot like that. I also never knew all the rules that most writers follow. Example: early on in my career, a romance writer friend asked me, "So what's your goal, motivation and conflict in this novel?" My answer was "Huh?"

The novel-writing process for me is very simple and straight forward: imagine, research, outline, pitch, visualize, write, edit, revise, submit.

I know people are interested in more details, and I love to talk shop, so I'll get more into my process in future posts. Just keep in mind that ours is a highly individual craft. What works for me may strangle or burnout another writer. In all things writing, take a test drive, keep what works for you and ditch the rest.

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