Sunday, February 2, 2014

Achievement unlocked: Writer

A commenter made me realize that despite writing about how much I've written, how many novels I've written and how I felt after hitting the million that I've never written how I got to this point. Basically: how many hours a day I write, average in an hour, but most interesting: HOW I worked up to it. And if I was ever a slow writer. In the spirit of being intrigued (and procrastinating on working on Novel 2 of this year), here we go:

I started writing when I was 10. Yes. TEN. That was almost two decades ago. My first stories were hand written in pencil and barely made it to what would be considered novella size. I *think* I finished most of them but there were a lot that went to the "story graveyard" which will eventually be dug-up to be scrutinized and rewritten.

Most of these early stories were based around things that all ready existed so for all intents and purposes I was writing fan-fiction. I wasn't using the characters, those I would make up, but I would use the world. There were a few that were completely original and I still have one of my first stories about two people that got stranded on a desert island after a plane crash. Yes, I was a morbid child.

When I was in my teens I was told that writing would amount to nothing and stopped for two years. Then I said "screw it" and finished my first novel The Troubles of True Love which got re-written last year. And then I went "silent" again. I didn't finish anything until 2009 and Tale of the Twins.

Was that important to know? Yep. Why? Well, it took me four months to write Troubles. I did it over summer vacation and dried out I think four pens. I used about 200 sheets of paper in a binder. Yes I still have the original copy.

It took me a YEAR to write Tale of the Twins and I wrote it after I finished work (that tells you how much time passed), so from about 6PM to 10PM, finishing roughly a chapter a week or month or something. I can't remember. Anyway, it clocks in at 156,250 words. I hate it. There I said it. I HATE IT and want to rewrite it. Never mind it's been published by a vanity press.

ANYWAY. If you've been following my blog or Twitter you'll know that at my top speeds I can finish a novel in a week. That's about 80K in 7 days. At peak speeds I can hit 3,000 words an hour. At my lowest speeds I get about 1,950. I average 2,250. Weekdays I write for three hours out of the four I have. The other hour is spent being distracted on Twitter or researching. On weekends I write from 1PM to 11PM, so roughly 10 hours.

So, what happened between 2009 and now? Lots. In 2010 I started writing book two of the Tale of the Twins trilogy but MOST importantly: I found out about National Novel Writing Month. I participated of course and wrote Trees of Life which was a rewrite from a failed attempt in 2008 or 2005...or something. I didn't finish the novel but I got 100,000 words in one month. THAT sparked something in me and I finished the novel sometime in 2011. Then in 2011's NaNo I hit 175,000 words. And didn't stop.

By the end of 2012 I finished my first MilWordy (write a million words in a year) with nine novels. Last year, I finished the year with 1,328,715 words spanning over 13 books and various short stories. This year I'm going for a third MilWordy which will span over 14 books and various short stories.

How did I go from one or two novels a year to nine or thirteen? Simple. Sheer practice and volume. The AMOUNT of words I wrote in NaNo that first (and second) time made me wonder if I could do more. If I could keep it up. When I finished the second NaNo I forgot what I used to do after dinner when I wasn't writing so I filled that spot with writing.

Was I ever a slow writer? Oh HELL YES. I used to write by hand. When I wrote Trees of Life in 2010 I doubt I was hitting even 1000 words an hour. By simply writing every day for the next two (and more) years I double it and tripled (or more) my actual output.

Another interesting thing happened as well. Instead of writing wordy 120K+ novels, I'm now stream-lining to 80-95K novels. Does that mean less plot? Nope. I've got just as much happening in my 80K thriller/detective fiction as I do in my 140K epic fantasy. There are still plot twists, minor subplots, interest, description and intrigue but I'm saying in with less words. And yeah, there are probably less subplots which is likely a good thing.

I do have to say that I owe every novel I've written since 2010 (25 of them) to National Novel Writing Month. If I hadn't found NaNo I would not be writing now. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd still be stuck on Book 3 of Tale of the Twins. And one more thing: ANYONE can achieve the same amount. It takes a lot of hard word, determination, sheer will power, and practice. Blood, sweat, and tears my friends. Blood, sweat, and tears. Does it get easier? After having written for almost two decades I can honestly say that no, it doesn't get easier. But it shouldn't be easy. More on that here.

So for the interested commenter: I hope you enjoyed it and it made sense. For everyone else: Until next time: comments, questions, rage, rants and everything in between can be directed to the comments.


  1. Yay. This was really interesting. Thanks for writing it. And wow, ten hours on the weekend! I'm impressed. I struggle to get to three. Very motivating post! I'm off to write some more.

    1. Thanks for the comment and sorry this is so late in coming. I tend to fall off the earth sometimes. Gravity hates me ;)
      Ten hours on a good day. Sometimes I can only manage to squeak in three or four depending on what I need to get done. I'm glad it motivated you. Keep on writing my friend. It's all in the practice. :D