(Copied from the Book of Faces -Jack)
Some writerly advice about production goals.
In the Tower of Silence post somebody asked me what my record word count was for one day.
However, that was brutal and I do not recommend it. That was to wrap of Son of the Black Sword, which I though I had more time to work on, but the deadline got moved up because we had a wonderful opportunity for it to be on the cover of a major wholesale catalog. Which was an opportunity we’d be dumb to pass up, but which meant we needed eARCs by a much earlier date. That ended up being like a 26 hour day.
If you work like that very often you will burn out and get stupid.
A normal week while writing a book my ideal goal is 10k.
Which means averaging 2k per week day, assuming I’m taking weekends off, which I usually do now.
It’s never actually 2k though, because editing is slower than writing. So it’s usually more like 3k, 1k, 4k , 2k, 0 because that’s just how life is sometimes, 2k, etc.
And don’t get worked up about it, because then you just get into your head and screw yourself up. If you didn’t produce yesterday like you wanted it does no good to fixate on that today. Just get back to work.
A fantastic day for me is when I get in the zone and write like 5k.
When you are in that zone, where the words are just flowing, just run with it as long as you can.
Don’t do that thing where you stay up doing the all nighter (unless you’ve got no choice!) and keep writing after your brain is toast, because usually what happens the next day when you are coherent is you end up throwing that away no matter what.
As a rule of thumb I almost never write after midnight or 1 AM, because at the time it’ll make sense and the next day it’s going to look like trash.
My record for a book is 1 month, but that was 60k for the non-fiction gun book, which is a topic I’ve been pondering on for three decades, and I also had a bunch of blog posts that got cannibalized to serve as starting points for different chapters.
Normally books take me between 3 and 6 months. Sometimes life kicks you in the balls and that turns to 9 months or a year. Whatever. Don’t cry about it in public, that just makes you look piteous and pity doesn’t sell books. Just get back to work.
I’m comfy at 2k a day, but I also have to edit far less than when I was inexperienced. Back then I’d write more in a day, but then spend twice as long editing. So find that comfy pace that maximizes your good productivity.
Day jobs suck. If you’ve still got one all the same principles apply, just adjust the times and word counts according to what you do have available. When I started writing I owned my own business and was working crazy stupid hours. Just take the time you do have and make the best of it and keep grinding until its done. Most of us don’t quit the day job until we’ve written a bunch of books and have a sufficiently selling backlist to pay the bills. That’s normal.
If you can only write one day a week, do that. Get the most out of it. If you write a mere 1000 words a week you can write a pretty big novel in 2 years. If you write shorter stuff like YA you can do a novel in a year at that, and 1k a week is nothing. You can hit that at lunch breaks.
Don’t get all worked up over stuff like NaNoWriMo. That’s great that it shows people what they can do, but don’t get upset if you can’t write 50k in a month. I do this full time, have 12 years experience, and I don’t usually hit that. It’s great if you do. But really, for working professionals every month is NaNo.
Production goals will vary depending on what market you write for. Indy guys who are doing the 6 short books a year thing are going to set different production goals than a trad guy like me who knows his release dates a year in advance.
Also don’t beat yourself up over perfection. You are writing the best thing that you can in the time allotted. Writers fall into that eternal turd polishing trap, and spend 8 years working on their first book, sell it, then panic and crash because the market/publisher wants the second book tomorrow and they don’t know how to do that.