My last post on planning proposed that if you get the plan right, you can write a draft very fast. How fast? Well, when I’m on a reasonable roll (that is to say I’m fired up but not clinically hypo-manic) I can churn out about 800 reasonably clean words of prose per hour. My partner Simone Sinna can do 1,000 and from what I’ve seen, Danny in my Novel class can do about 2,000 – I’m not sure I can even type that fast. I reckon my 800 is probably about average, and I do do a bit of reworking within that, I’m not just pouring it out. I’m actually trying to write as well as I can without straining at it.
Simple maths – I’m going to write an 80,000 word draft in 100 hours at that pace. Call it twelve big days of about 7,000 words a day. Can I really write for eight or nine hours a day? And churn out a couple of 3,500-word chapters? Sure. And I can sustain it. Simone, who can be a little competitive as we sit opposite each other in the ‘no interruptions’ country shack can do 20,000 in two days. I’m guessing many writers can, with a bit of practice, if they’ve done the hard yards in the planning – see previous post – and recognise that there will be plenty of editing to come – see “Work in Progress” post.
Is this a sensible way to work? It is, at least for some. Simone wrote two novels at a page a day for a year, and prefers this way. First draft quality is much the same – what’s lost in reflection time is picked up in continuity and having her head in the space. Oddly, it’s sometimes easier to find big blocks of time (cancel that day out or that weekend away) than to consistently find an hour a day.
The huge payoff is the psychological return on getting the damn thing drafted. After that, it’s only re-writing. Or editing…