Yesterday afternoon, I finished the light revision pass of section two of Calamity of So Long A Life, which is book one of Sunspin. The further adventures of the Before Michaela Cannon and her crew of antagonists and allies is off to first readers.
For this tranche, I wrote and lightly revised 72,800 words in the course of 52.5 hours. That’s over 36 calendar days, of which I worked 31 days. Time expended included a nontrivial amount of effort revising and poking at the outline, as well as the revision effort itself (approximately 6.75 hours). The total word count, 2/3 of the way through the draft, stands at 133,000 words, which jibes nicely with my estimate 180-200,000 words. My throughput in this revised process is 1,400 words per hour, which means that when I start working again on this project I can expect another 50 or so hours of effort to wrap this first draft.
I know some people are pretty critical of me reporting these numbers. A few people have been critical of me even tracking them.
Tracking these statistics just part of my process. By evaluating my throughput, I can size future work efforts and plan my time. This is how I know it will take me 5-7 more working months to finish this project in first draft. That’s not a guess or a hope, it’s a projection drawn from existing baseline data. As a working professional, it’s crucial for me to know what dates I’m going to hit.
Reporting these statistics is perhaps a more arguable act. The arguments I get run along the lines of “You’re intimidating other writers” or “You’re misleading other writers into thinking this is how it should be done”. Really, this is my accountability to myself. If I report in public every day on the state of my work, I have a strong incentive to keep working.
With rare exceptions, everything I say about writing is descriptive rather than prescriptive. When I talk about my productivity and my work, that’s all I’m talking about. My productivity, my work. I would hope that anyone paying sufficient attention to my blog to know what I have written and how I’ve been writing it would be inspired rather than intimidated or misled. This is how I inspire myself.
Meanwhile, Sunspin marches on. As previously mentioned, I’m laying the project aside for several weeks to knock out some short fiction efforts and then revise Kalimpura, which I owe to casacorona by June. So my poor characters shall wait within their wells of tension until I return with my bucket of words to once more draw them out into the light of story.