Monday, January 7, 2013

Math Hates Me

Math can be a dangerous thing.  It has a way of occasionally making things look deceptively easy only to have them bite you in the ass at a later date.

I will freely admit that I don't like math.  Yes, I spent years in the financial industry but that doesn't mean I liked the math part. I just accepted it as part of my job and figured out how to get good at it.

But book math can be deadly.

Let me show you the book math that I've been doing recently.

Recently, I've set the goal of writing a minimum of 2,000 words per day, 7 days per week

Now isn't a strain for me.  I will frequently use a cooking timer set at 60 minutes.  For 60 minutes, I'm not allowed to get up, answer the phone, check email, or get on the Internet to look something up and generally waste time.  In 60 minutes, I average about 1,500 words.  Pretty darn good.

Keeping in mind, that I need to only write 2,000 words per day, I can get all my writing done in approximately 2 hours (including a quick 30-minute break to goof off).  This schedule works for me since I spend 5 days a week at a full-time job writing other, non-fiction type things.

This is all good and safe so far.  But here's where the math starts to get dangerous.

There are an average of 30 days in a month.  So 2000 words per day over 30 days means that I can churn out 60,000 words per month.  Wow!

Looking back at my published novels, my books run between 115,000 and 125,000 words.

Yeah, now you follow me.  At that schedule, I can write 1 book every 2 months.


6 books per year.

WHOA! That's not right.  We forgot about editing.  Okay, so let's tack on another month to that book estimate for edits as well.  I can write 1 book every 3 months.


4 books per year.

That is a really seductive number.  Four books per year.  That would be so awesome.  I could finish so many projects that I've been putting off at that pace. 

....And this is where my daydreaming starts to get me into trouble.

I have never been able to maintain that pace.   I think my best has been approximately 3 books in a year and that led to some burnout.  I know some authors that can do that and don't blink an eye at it.  I'm not one of them but I want to try to build toward that.

For the past week, I have written every day and hit my minimum goal of 2,000 per day.  In fact, every day I've finished at least 500 words above that goal.  I've finished a novella and I'm moving on to a novel now.

I think the key is to closely monitor my thinking by setting up rules.

1. I must write every day -- NO EXCUSES
2. Any words that are above my daily goal do NOT count toward the next day's goal (eg. I wrote 2700 words yesterday so I only have to write 1300 words today.)
3. I can't play catch-up the next day. (eg. I can only write 1000 words today, so I will write 3000 words tomorrow.)

It'll be interesting to see how this experiment goes.  I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I also blogged over at Supernatural Underground today, providing some random thoughts on what I'm currently working on and why.  Also, stay tuned for news on some book giveaways over on Goodreads.

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