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Jay Lake
Date: 2011-03-30 08:27
Subject: [writing|process] Sunspin milestones and metrics
Security: Public
Tags:books, calamity, kalimpura, process, publishing, stories, sunspin, writing
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 [info]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.

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User: barbhendee
Date: 2011-03-30 17:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Honestly, Jay, I think tracking these types of numbers is a whole lot healthier than a few of my friends who obsessively check their Amazon and B&N sales rank.
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Brent Kellmer: writing
User: skaldic
Date: 2011-03-30 17:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Personally, I'm with kateelliott and enjoy reading the productivity stats and how you look at your progress. And frankly, people who are critical of you tracking them or reporting them a acting like petty tyrants who want you to do things the way they think they should be done -- writing the same speed they do, or not posting something that might intimidate others or other crap. If they're at all serious about writing, they have to realize that some people write quickly, some don't. Some write clean first drafts, some don't. Everybody is different, and the sooner they get that to sink in, the sooner they'll be able to move on with their craft.
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User: sarpvinash
Date: 2011-03-30 19:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I find it v inspiring - have taken out an old, stalled project and taking another shot at it after seeing these daily numbers. its hypnotic :)
keep on trucking.
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Chris Coen
User: clarentine
Date: 2011-03-30 19:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Bravo for your willingness to keep and report statistics. I like seeing what’s possible. Those sorts of numbers serve to remind me that I need to learn my own process and be true to myself, not to some supposed average writer. I want to be better than average, right? So why would someone want me to aim for it?
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User: barbarienne
Date: 2011-03-30 20:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
People who are intimidated by your progress reports probably also have other jealousy issues that interfere in their development as a writer.

Because me? Me with my 100-words-at-a-sitting-before-it-hurts-my-brain approach? I look at your numbers and laugh and laugh and laugh. I will never, even on my bestest day, come anywhere close to matching your output.

You're like a superhuman to me. Being intimidated by your numbers is like Batman being intimidated by Superman because he can fly.

I'm much more intimidated by the writers who regularly produce 700-1000 words a day. Because that's a number I know I can reach, but I don't.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2011-03-30 20:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good grief, who has their head up their rear about your productivity reports? It makes sense to me to do so. Gave me the same idea as well.

It's just data. Different data for different people. For God's sake, it's not like there's a No Writer Left Behind law that demands every writer produce a minimum quantity by X time.

Ahem. Sorry. Bad asthma flare, and I'm irritable. Can hardly wait for the likely Prednisone prescription.
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Warrior of Worry
User: warriorofworry
Date: 2011-03-31 22:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Or all of the above. Really. I find your statistics totally intimidating b/c you do all that *and* the day jobbe too. I find them totally inspiring for the same reason.
I'm glad you post them, even if some days they just trigger (mock) despair.
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curious Eve
User: curiouseve
Date: 2011-03-31 23:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I especially like to hear about how your work methods have evolved with your skill level. This is a bit inspiring, really.
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