1. bythegods
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    bythegods Banned

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    How long does it take you to reach 60k words?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by bythegods, Jul 22, 2014.

    I read Stephen King saying that a first draft should be done in three months.

    I'm about six weeks into my first draft and have only reached 18,000 words - some way off the target of 60,000 words by three months.
     
  2. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Took me about a year.
    That seems a strange thing for Stephen King to say.
    Surely it depends a lot on how much your life style allows?
    Not to mention other factors like previous writing experience, and the amount of planning and research you need to do.
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Exactly. At the rate I'm going, it'll take me a lifetime to get 60,000 words.

    And what if you had a full-time job? Kids? Not everyone can write 60,000 words in one month, even if they did a thousand words a day. Sure some experienced writers can do that easily, but not everyone.

    EDIT: Just did some math. You'd have to be doing at least 2,000-10,000 words a day to reach 60,000 words in a month.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2014
  4. bythegods
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    bythegods Banned

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    According to my maths, if you did 666 words a day for 3 months, or 90 days, you'd arrive at an almost 60,000 word manuscript. I do see Stephen Kings point. I can't grind out 666 words per day however, as often my plot has so many holes in it I have to do a fair bit of rethinking.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It really depends. Some writers can churn out thousands of words a week, and some writers can take years to finish a first draft. King has the luxury of being able to write all the time because that's his job. He's also known for being a bit wordy sometimes, so he doesn't edit as well as he should. One thing to keep in mind is that King already has an established audience. He could write an entire novel in a week, and though it would be bad, he would still sell a ton of copies.

    Just remember that it's not a competition. Take as long as you need. It takes writers like Murakami and McCarthy years to write a novel, so taking your time isn't a bad thing.
     
  6. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    I wrote a 121,000 words' novel in 3 months.

    And of another novel, I've only able to conjure 95,000 words in a little over 5 years.

    It's not because I was a better writer earlier, or because my coherency of thought was better (well...that is debatable), but simply how much free time I had. When I wrote the 100k+ novel, I was on summer vacation. I had no homework, I had a 3 hour tuition (which I never revised when I came home) and that's it. I didn't do any chores of any kind, I didn't need to worry about getting up on time or showering or any of those things normal people care for, all I did (and it was definitely fun!) was write, sleep on the desk, write, make a smoothie, smell myself, write some more, bathe and daydream, write. I could go on writing for as long as 8 hours with no interruptions. My mind was a blank slate on which my ideas bounced off of and became words almost instantly. I wrote up to 5,000 words a day.

    This new novel? Well, I have been working on it only intermittently. Maybe a few weeks, at most a month, a year. That too, with so many responsibilities and concerns pressing me. I've promised to make some time for my writing after my breakdown at college (now THAT's another novel idea), but generally speaking, I don't have so much time, so to speak. I'm not studying to be a writer, so it's never going to be all I do all day. I have a life. :p

    Anyhow, in summary of my dramatic rant (this is close to my heart, you see), I would say that King is probably speaking from the point-of-view of a person who has written a gazillion novels and continues to do so for a living. Not to mention, your speed is no substitute for quality.
     
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  7. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    King most certainly does not account for average Joe writers who have jobs, bills, and families to take care of. It's a lot harder to dedicate yourself to writing when there are more pressing essential priorities. If you loved alone, had a billion dollars, and nothing to do all day then yeah; three months would be a generous amount of time for a first draft (Not including any research or planning stages)

    I write at about 55-80wpm depending on my mood and how focused I am or whether I know the scene well. To hit 80,000 words at that speed would be between 1000-1500 minutes of non stop typing or 25-20 hours. Basically, one feverish day of nosebleeds, headaches, starvation, and sittoing in my own filfth.

    Now that's suffering for your art :p
     
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  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Every writer will have a different number - I think Janet Dailey can crank out a first draft before her morning coffee. Kidding ( but just. ) Three months though, isn't too bad - but to be honest I think it would totally depend on the project and the writer's schedule. I think your best bet is to make your own schedule and shoot for doable goals. If you know you can comfortably manage a certain word count a day - shoot for it.
     
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  9. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    A number like this is completely relative!:( I read this quote from King and thought it was ridiculous at the time. How in the world can every writer produce on the same schedule when everyone lives, thinks, works, and learns at a completely different rate?

    I specialize in kids with learning disabilities, and one thing you learn is that no two people process information the same way. Because of that, no two people in the world produce at the same rate. Rate of production is not, absolutely NOT synonymous with quality. I'm sorry to sound adamant, but generalizations like this really get my goat:mad:. Some of the most brilliant kids I've ever worked with did absolutely everything wrong. They did things backward, at the wrong pace, in the wrong order. Yet what they came up with in the end left the efforts of everyone else in the dust. So does that make them any less 'productive' ? Innovation is what matters, not the path you take to get there.

    I know many people here love Stephen King, and I know his focus is production. But these are the kinds of comments you get from people who don't think outside the box, or who haven't ever seen things done differently. Didn't James Joyce write something like seven words a day? Ugh!:meh:

    Anyway, bythegods, I wouldn't worry about your pace at all. What matters is a good story, not the amount of time it takes to get it out.
     
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  10. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    It took me a little over a year. That was with me working full time and dealing with family stuff. I didn't write everyday.
     
  11. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    Why sixty thousand words? Isn't a novel supposed to be about 80k?

    To answer your question:

    How long does it take me to meet 60k? Apparently forever. I'm only at twenty something, and it's been years.
     
  12. bythegods
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    bythegods Banned

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    No, he isn't. I'll post the quote. "The first draft of a book — even a long one — should take no more than three months, the length of a season".
     
  13. bythegods
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    bythegods Banned

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    60K feels about the perfect size for a novel to be. Anything longer and I consider it to be flatulence.
     
  14. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Three months, my ass.
     
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  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    3 months is pretty reasonable. Let's say 90K novel. That's ~1k per day. That's pretty reasonable, especially if you can bulk up on weekends.

    I think King is speaking out of practicality. If you're not writing 1k a day, and you're working on 1st draft, there's a high chance you're not working hard enough. If you're naturally slow, or work is something really, really special, or maybe that first draft is gonna come out looking like gold, well, you can tell me I was wrong about you after N years when the first draft is finally finished.

    For most of us, I'd say, 3 months makes sense. In terms of practically, you can churn out that first draft, then go back and revise, revise, revise. The first draft is unique in the sense that you are without foundation until it is written. This means the project is at greatest risk of being scrapped, until that first draft is finished. If you take to long to finish it, other endeavors start looking more appetizing.

    1k a day is also a great way to build discipline.
     
  16. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Stephan King prob meant that it takes HIM 3 months now, he has been writing for a long time, so he has established his writing style and voice and has the confidence to start and finish without rechecking and extra edits. Plus he has the time. If its your job you learn to write faster as deadlines loom a lot more than if you doing it as a hobby (even if it does get published). Some work fast some work slow JK Rowling took ages on Harry Potter.
     
  17. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    But some have jobs dont forget and family and other responsibilities, Also people with Dyslexia take much longer for example. Snapping those small hours is precious. So unless your have a publisher breathing down your neck, take your time get you style right and just enjoy. If you are going slower than 3 months, who cares?

    Start pressing yourself and you will not
    1. Enjoy anymore
    2. Work to your full creative potential
     
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  18. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    You shouldn't just churn out words, to really get a novel right they have to be crafted. The first 600 might flow quickly the next my wrestle with you for a week.
     
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  19. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was assuming jobs and other responsibilities in my initial post. An hour a day and more on weekends is not outlandish.

    Look, it depends on how serious you are. Like with any endeavor, we all know people we keep seeing (at band practice, the sport's club, here, wherever) from time to time over the years, who lack consistency and just aren't getting anywhere at all.
     
  20. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    but they do what they love.
     
  21. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, but Stephen King is coming from a certain perspective.

    1. The reader of his book wants to become published. Forget being published. Just being good.
    2. The reader of his book plans on writing multiple drafts.

    Love is important. So is discipline.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
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  22. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    well, personally, if things got to plan as they have done since the beginning of this month, the answer for me is 23 days... with an average of 2609 per day to write, which is no more than an hour a day (my average is between 2500 and 2900 words per hour)

    *Edit* i do have a job that requires me to work 6pm to 10pm monday to friday lugging boxes round.
     
  23. bythegods
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    bythegods Banned

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    Again, no - he wasn't referring to just himself. I can dig out the full article. He says quite clearly that he feels anyone should be able to complete a first draft in three months.

    I actually agree with him. I could make excuses why I cannot achieve that but honestly its because I'm just not good enough yet - be that because of dedication or skill I am not certain.

    It reminds me of an ancient fable about a prophet seeking disciples who would warn each prospective candidate; 'whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple'.

    Its all well and good, great even to enjoy writing but that is not the same as being a disciple, where you really are taking it to the next level, making personal sacrifices to achieve your goal.
     
  24. Nightstar99
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    Nightstar99 Contributing Member

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    Not very long, the problem is the re-writing the awful first draft copy once the first draft is done. For me at least. I am averaging a page a day if I am lucky. And I am still not very happy with it so I imagine I will have to go over it all a third time.

    I have never finished a first draft of anything before so didnt realise that it would be this laborious.
     
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  25. bythegods
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    bythegods Banned

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    And I'm struggling with the FIRST draft. Oh Lord have mercy.
     
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