1. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    Writing Speed

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by zelda, Sep 23, 2010.

    Hi, I started writing a novel and I'm just wondering what the most common approach to it is in terms of speed.

    Should I write really fast (if possible) and ignore quality for now, and I mean really ignore quality, or should I continue how I'm going and go about it slowly, but in a way where the first draft seems close to final already.

    It took me many hours to finish 2,500 words. These hours were spread over 3 days, I had a lot of other things to do of course.

    I would like to have a novel in a year, I suppose, or at least a manuscript, some kind of finished online copy.
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Everyone works differently personally I see no point in constantly editing and caring about my first draft. One thing completing my first draft taught me it was going to be changed beyond all recognition anyway. There was no point in editing it as I went along. I also have a habit of deleting loads when I have a new idea to work in.

    Days vary sometimes I am lucky to write 15-20 words other days I can write 20,000 - depends on circumstances, pace of ideas, and what stage I am at. Somedays I even just edit rather than write.

    EDIT: I also find dialogue, character depth, description etc improves as I come to know the characters and stories better.
     
  3. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    Yes. I suggest writing as fast as possible.

    The faster you write the less attached you grow to what you've written, which will let you do what sometimes has to be done* with less regrets.



    *: Removing redundant/useless/too slow/ugly/bad chapters.
     
  4. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    No, you should absolutely not ignore quality. The point about a first draft, IMO, is that you should spend your time writing new stuff and not constantly tweaking what's there. That is very different to ignoring quality, which you should never do. Also, if you are stuck on a sentence or a paragraph it might be a good idea to include some 'placeholder' text and then revise it on the second draft. Again, that's not the same as ignoring quality, it's simply recognising you need to get on with it and doing the best you can under that constraint.
     
  5. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agree - if you write too fast you end up with too much dialogue and quick action-heavy scenes, thinking, "Oh, I can leave the more indepth description until later" and just give enough basic details to keep the story out of a floating white void of dialogue... It's a really good practice to get used to writing description as well - if you already are, fair enough, but I know so many writers who ditch it as soon as they feel they need to go fast.

    Except when it's NaNoWriMo, in which case you get the opposite effect of a hundred pages of purple prose just to bump the word count without having to stop to think of new plot twists. :p
     
  6. Blips
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    Blips Member

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    I've been writing fairly slowly. Maybe on average 800 words a day? Sometimes I'll stare at a sentence or paragraph for what seems like an hour, other times I'll just cruise through.

    So I'm not sure about the standard, but I've generally been attempting to write my best from the start.
     
  7. Lmc71775
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    Lmc71775 Active Member

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    I would write it when its hot in your mind and you wanna drop it like a rock.

    Having it down is one thing, thinking about it is another. If you ponder on your nick picky words tooo tooo much you lose steam and train of thought and flow.

    Use filler words and come back later if you have to. Get it down in a draft asap. (or as soon as you can)

    I'm up to only 16K in mine and I started a week ago...and already I am kicking myself for not writing more.

    I just find the first draft a relief. There is not as pressure on my mind when I revise. Can't wait to kick back in a month from now and have a complete draft of hopefully 60K words. If it will ever happen.

    Anyways...off the mark. Suggestion: First draft first...like first things first. Then wait, a week. Get it out of your mind and look at it again with fresh eyes. I learned that in novels for dummys book...hahah ( It worked too!)

    Good luck with your project. Speed it up! LOL
     
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  8. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    Hmmm, I guess I'll try to speed up a bit and not correct myself too much right now. If I can reach 2,000/day, I think that's plenty. Right now I'm like 500/day.
     
  9. Lmc71775
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    Lmc71775 Active Member

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    Yeah, do whatever you feel comfortable with. Don't force it out of you, let it flow.

    I read somewhere that Steven King made it a practice to write at least 2,500 a day. So when you find your comfortable word count, stick with it. Just keep writing, and try to erase worry of it reading right or wrong and sounding good or bad to you. You can always fix that later. Think about it, is anybody ever lucky and prefect the very first time around? NO. It's a process...let it build on you.
     
  10. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    2,000 a day is monstrously fast. If you can achieve this and be pleased with the result then that's great. I think I average 500 - 1000 a day. Occasionally I can do 4000, if there's a lot of dialogue, but sometimes I write 10 or 20 words. The key point is, though, if I'm happy with those 20 words then the day has been just as successful as the one involving 4000 words. Unless you're a contracted author who needs to churn out X books in the next Y years, speed shouldn't be an issue other than to ensure a flow of ideas.
     
  11. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    I just wanted to echo that there's no "right" speed. Everyone is different.

    I usually only set daily word count targets when I'm writing to a deadline. Otherwise I just make it a point to spend X hours (depending on what I have available, weekday or weekend) writing and try to get done as much as possible. Some days I can write 4,000 - 5,000 words, other days I'm lucky to hit 750 words. But as long as I sit down and get something done, I don't consider the day a waste.

    As a general rule I'd say don't be a perfectionist with your first draft. If you obsess over every sentence/paragraph, you run the risk of losing steam or simply nitpicking yourself into never actually completing anything. But I wouldn't recommend "not caring at all" about the first draft. You want to make the job of revising your manuscript as easy as possible (for the sake of your sanity). My first novel required two total rewrites after I completed my first draft, and that was a lot of damn work. At this point I'm able to produce pretty reasonable first drafts and while I still do a lot of editing and revision before I get to final draft stage, I no longer have to completely rewrite from scratch. I prefer having a relatively strong base on which to make my improvements.

    If you have a day where you're just not able to write anything new, I'd recommend editing a chapter or two prior to your stopping point. I've found that helps ground me in the story and it also means that parts of your manuscript may be in 2nd or 3rd draft form once you've finished your official "first draft".

    Most of all, do what's comfortable for you. There are no hard and fast rules for this stuff. Anyone who says there is doesn't know what they're talking about. ;)
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you shouldn't even be thinking 'speed'!

    think only 'quality'!!!

    some writers can write marketable material very quickly, while others take years to finish one book...

    and many can't turn out anything that will sell no matter how long they take to write it...

    there are no prizes for speed, only for quality...
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thank you, Maia, for cutting through the BS so succinctly! This is very, very true.
     
  14. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    Well I didn't mean leaving it as a low quality work, I meant blazing through it and then doing a lot of revisions later, essentially constructing a skeleton first.

    I will take everyone's advice to heart. It seems the result is still about the same, I should speed up a bit, but not overly.

    Personally I feel like I get nothing done if I just go by "hours". In fact, nothign really works perfectly for me, but number count is okay because although I constantly check the count again to see the new number, it takes a second and shows me how much I need to do.

    I suppose I'll eventually develop my own habits once I truly become a writer (I'm JUST starting out, although I was into it when I was younger (20 now). Asking others about this stuff makes me feel more comfortable with pioneering along by myself, although that goes without saying, that's one of the purposes of forums I suppose.

    I wish I worked for ShonenJump or something in Tokyo... I think I'm exceptional at coming up with very interesting story ideas and plans, but the amount of dialogue and total writing in books is infinitely greater than Manga. I've heard of people who are hired as Manga writers only, and don't draw.

    Well, if one day I can get one of my stories-to-be to become Manga, I will post about it here to show that it's possible! ^^

    Thanks
     
  15. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess your best bet then is to find an artist friend and try and start off independantly? Small-press comics are booming at the moment, I hear.
     
  16. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    I think it's too hard to find someone like that.. Someone like that would probably want to do their own stories anyway. Otherwise, there'd be some problem. I've even tried it before with a few people. Of course, I would jump at the chance... I would be able to save a lot of time writing excessively, and get to focus on thinking up genius story ideas and plans ^^

    I'm confident that even a strict, competitive Japanese manga publishing department would be able to use my ideas to success, if only it weren't so hard to gain approval, or even an interview. One day maybe, one day... ^^ I will, WILL, look into it when I'm in Japan in the future.
     
  17. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    I think a big part of being a young or beginning writer is figuring out how it works best for you. I've been writing novels for about... oh gosh... 8 years on and off(none published) and have finally found and accepted what works for me.

    Hopefully you get there faster than I did. :)
     
  18. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    What is your typing/handwriting speed like? Because mine are reasonable I can get my ideas our as quickly as I need. I would be seriously hampered if I couldn't write quickly, have a weird shorthand type way of working etc

    Motley is right it is taking my second book to finally show me that I have a way of working as the first draft is like writing the first draft last time.
     
  19. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Joseph Wambaugh said that he wrote 1,000 words each day, no matter what, and if an emergency arose and he missed writing on Monday, he would do 2,000 on Tuesday. He put it down to a matter of personal discipline. But he also said that he was not recommending this approach to anyone else, only that it worked for him, personally. He felt that he needed to make up for what he might lack in talent with maxing out on discipline.
     
  20. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    Remember too that professional authors need that speed or they go hungry. I bet that most if not all of the authors who stick to a schedule first learned the craft and then bothered about how fast they applied it. It's like that with any discipline. Clearly if someone is putting down 5 words a day there's a problem somewhere but I say if your speed averages three figures or more per day then worry about your writing, not your rate of output.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why do you think so?... how much is 'a bit'?... what good would it do you to be faster?... would it make your writing any better?
     
  22. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    I've been thinking about the prospect of writing novels as a career If I;m successful, and as a professional I would need to go faster. I feel some pressure that I'm already 20 but still circling around a bit with what I want to do. Furthermore, everything I want to become is always really hard to achieve, such as novelist, and professional Go player (which I believe is harder to become than any profession I've ever heard of)

    Anyway, I just think I could use a little more speed, I waste so much time spacing out.
     
  23. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is nothing wrong with setting goals. You seem to want to write faster and there are advantages to it. I find the intial stages of starting a first draft are hard, and it is slower, but then the idea clicks and that is when I can write tons. Then it slows down again as I hit the editing stage.
     
  24. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    I don't want to sound like a jerk, but I think you're putting the cart way ahead of the horse here. If you've just started your first novel, I wouldn't worry about your professional writing career just yet. :)

    The reality is, making a living as an author is extremely difficult (which you seem to recognize), and it's certainly dependent on factors beyond just talent. There are many excellent, starving authors out there. Many of whom have been writing for years and years without ever getting to a point where they can support themselves on writing alone.

    I am traditionally published--four novels with a fifth scheduled for 2011--and I am nowhere close to being able to quit my day job. Even though my third novel is one of my publisher's bestselling titles. So even if you're able to write something that's publishable, that's not enough to make writing a full-time career.

    It's good to have goals and even dreams, but as an amateur writer, I don't think you should be focusing on what you would need to do as a professional author. You're not a professional. If and when you do get published, you will likely still need to work at a "real" job to make a comfortable living, at least at first. That will certainly affect the speed at which you write.

    Focus on trying to master the craft. Write. A lot. Discover what works for you and what doesn't. Establish good habits. Seek out honest, objective critiques of your work. Grow a thick skin. Get better.

    That should really be your only focus at this point. Become a good writer. Worry about the rest later.
     
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  25. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    ^ Yes, that
     

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