Archive for February 17, 2020

writing life


I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research on how I can turn this writing/publishing thing into a more viable business that meets my financial goals, and something I read last week was rather eye-opening. The author of the article said he was going to try to release a book every month, since that does something in the Amazon algorithms to give him higher visibility. He figured he could do that easily by writing 2,000 words a day.

I was immediately skeptical, since my typical writing day is 3-4,000 words a day, and I can’t begin to imagine writing 12 books a year. He was talking about a 40-50,000-word book, though, while mine tend to be at least 70,000. But I started doing math and realized that it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility for me to write three shorter mysteries in the 50,000-word range and three longer fantasies in the 70,000-word range a year at my typical writing pace, if I’m really diligent and consistent. That would only take 2-3 hours a day of actual hands-on-keyboard work. It would end up being about 3 weeks worth of drafting for a mystery and 4 weeks for a fantasy (which I have done before), so in total for three books each, that’s 21 weeks, less than half the year.

But that’s first drafts, and I tend to do a lot of research/preparation and a lot of rewriting. But that still gives me about a month per book for revision, and since it only involves a couple of hours a day of actual writing time, that allows the rest of the day for research and preparation on other projects.

So, not outside the realm of possibility. But I ran into something today that shows what kind of snags can arise. I realized as I was falling asleep last night that I’d made a wrong move in Friday’s writing that pretty much means that writing is useless and I need to start over at that scene and do something different, and when I woke up this morning I realized that it was true. Because I’d set a deadline for finishing this draft and going back to rework would mean either missing the deadline or really having to buckle down this week, for a moment I resisted the idea of rewriting, telling myself it was okay the way it was and I had some fun scenes. That’s a dangerous way to think because it means I’m putting an arbitrary deadline ahead of quality.

In the past when I’ve written a fast draft, I’ve become really optimistic about what I could produce if I kept up like that, and yet I never have managed to sustain it. I put in more hours last year than this schedule would entail, and I only drafted two books (plus did a couple of rounds of revisions on another and thoroughly revised two books, as well as developing and researching a book), so it’s not as though I’m slacking. I just don’t seem to have been all that productive with the work I’ve put in.

But it is an interesting idea, and I think I’m going to try to at least pretend to have this kind of production schedule for a while. Getting a lot of books out rapidly is a good way to build a name and a readership, and then once you’ve got a good backlist going, it starts to snowball.

And that means that now I have to figure out what I should do instead of the scene I wrote on Friday.