Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Plodding Along

I'm a plodder. I'm not proud of this. While other writers around me are spinning stories by the hour, 2k, 4k, 7 k words a day, I'm struggling at just a thousand. If I can get that out.

I thought once the kiddos were in school, when I had a good chunk of quiet time all to myself, I'd pound out a few thousand no problem. After all, I've been writing this story in my head now for months. I even turned off the internet. I sat with no distractions but a blank screen and a computer keyboard with less than 14 letters still legible.

Two and half hours later... just under a thousand.

No matter how well plotted my book is, no matter how vivid it is in my head, no matter how excited I am about sitting to write and how full my head is of the next scene.... I plod.

It's not that my typing is slow. I type pretty fast, actually. It's finding the right words. It's getting those words in the right order. It's stopping to check coffee shop drinks so my character orders exactly the right drink. It's coming up with new names for new characters that pop up suddenly. It's just... writing.

I try to console myself with the thought that maybe I don't need as many revisions because I write deliberately to begin with. I don't have many spelling, grammar, punctuation issues because I write slooooowwwwwllly... plenty of time to catch those little buggers. I pretend maybe my first drafts are stronger for my plodding.

But honestly, I don't think any of that is true. The truth is, I'm just slow.

I will never be one of those writers who can write a book in three weeks, or five weeks, or even two months.

I'm trying to be okay with that. And for now, I'll be happy for those 950 words. It's 950 words I didn't have yesterday. Small victories are victories nonetheless.


  1. I write in crazy bursts. I think today I only managed 500 words. But sometimes I'll do 10 pages in one day. It's frenetic.

    You're not the first professional writer who writes only 1000 words per day. Go online-- I think I've seen that same figure at least 10 times from professional authors.

    I think I remeber reading that Lynn Veihl can only do 1200 words, and that she can't write with bare feet.

  2. But it's also the quality you write. I have gaps, ***, () in my first drafts. Something tells me yours don't. And 1k/day adds up and you'll have days where you write more or less. Quantity is overrated.

  3. 1k a day and you could still have a book in about three months. That's actually a very impressive pace!
    I've had days where I can sit down and type out up to 7k words, but that's because I'm single and have no kids. There are no immediate distractions in my household. And it can only happen on an uninterrupted weekend day.
    I've also had times where I sit down for 3-4 hours and get a few hundred words out because I'm nitpicking every word choice.

    Keep plodding along, that's what I'm doing overall!

  4. Christy - you always leave such reassuring comments! :) the bare feet thing, that's just funny! I guess we all have our quirks.

    Kerri - I don't think it's quality. I wish I could say it was, but I've seen stuff you and Jen put out after only one draft (and I say you and Jen because you are the two in the group I know write pretty fast....everyone else, I'm not sure about - maybe Brit too...). Your work is stellar.

    But you're right. It adds up. Not as fast, but still, something is better than nothing, right?

    MeganRebekah - You should read the 4Corner Blog today - it fits right with your comment!

  5. I'm more like Christy, I'm erratic. Sometimes I can end a day at 5K, other times I'll go days without "feeling it". I'd almost rather be able to count on a number each day, to know *about* when I might finish a draft. Instead, my agent tries to get me to estimate a timeline, and the best I can do is throw out a number, adding lots of "not feeling it" time.

    Nothing wrong with plodding, as long as you're actually writing, right?

  6. I am a plodder.

    "I thought once the kiddos were in school, when I had a good chunk of quiet time all to myself, I'd pound out a few thousand no problem."

    This is the time fallacy I talked about a while ago. Don't sweat it. 1,000 words a day is great. You do that every day and you will have 365,000 words! That's three nice sized novels right there.

  7. This is funny because I just responded to your "plodder" comment on my blog. I think you are probably a careful writer. Right now, in my first draft, I'm focusing mostly on the congruency of my story and the set-up of my scenes. I am definitely going to have to go back and rewrite a lot of the prose and dialogue. And as for those little details, I spent an hour yesterday on the internet finding a name and a city. Research takes A LOT of time. Sometimes I just put a note to go back and check that out later.

  8. I go through spurts where I write 4k in one day and then I go a whole week writing nothing. 1k a day is great and I would feel quite proud of that.

    Turning off the internet is my next step.

  9. I recently posted about finding your own rhythm, since I'm nowhere near the 1,000 words-per-day mark. In fact, before reading your blog, I was congratulating myself on having written 500 words today. LOL

    Is quantity more important than quality? I don't think it matters, as long as you're writing.

    It's hard not to judge yourself against others, but it's YOUR book. Take it as it comes.

  10. Paul - wow! When you put it that way, I'm doing awesome! Of course, it bodes the question, why don't I have three books written by now? Oh yeah - summer!

    Jessie - I commiserate! That researching can take up extraordinary time! I remember taking over an hour on my first book trying to find the perfect tree that would have been grown on a certain hillside. Probably I am the only one who would have noticed!

    Patti and Kim - I probably need to just remember when all you superstars are posting you wrote 7,000 words, maybe you don't do that every day!

    And Kathryn - 500 a day isn't bad. It's all I got done today. It's better than not getting anything done, right?

  11. I am really, really slow these days, except that I'm writing like crazy in my head.

    And husband work keeps coming and coming and coming.

    Maybe next August I'll stay up at Tahoe the whole month and just write!

    I think we all do things our own way and I do think you're right--you'll have a lot fewer revisions than the rest of us because you write the way you should the first time.