Just for the fun of it, I recently took an online typing test to see just how fast I could get my fingers to work. I’ve never done this before and I’ve never cared about the “official” number because it doesn’t really matter to anyone. And by that I mean, the only typing I’m doing is on my latest project and no one’s screaming for it.
I found out I type about 65 words per minute and removing errors, that might be adjusted to 60 or 61. I believe I can go faster – as if that matters – but, at the moment I’m using a rather old laptop with a space key that notoriously sticks. I’d say in fairness to my brain and fingers, that’s what’s called a handicap like they might give out in bowling or golf. Anyway, my curiosity regarding this was triggered by a blog I follow called Writers In The Storm. They have a group of writers who regularly contribute, as well as guest bloggers. A guest blogger recently put out a post about how to take advantage of writing fast and even came up with a formula for how many words one could do in an hour if you knew your wpm.
Huh. Okay, so, if I settled for 60 wpm x 60 that would be 3,600 words in an HOUR. Are they insane??? That’s WAY higher than my usual goal of 1,000 words per DAY. That sounded completely unreasonable until she went on to say you could work in fifteen minute increments. Oh. Okay, maybe I can see doing it that way. Hey, I’m all for trying something new for motivation. And if I only stuck with it for fifteen minutes, that’s 900 words – better than what I’ve done most days lately. She pointed out it’s also helpful to have notes and an understanding of what’s going to happen in the story before you begin.
In reality, this isn’t any different than NANOWRIMO which some of you might still be recovering from. There are a couple of differences. 1) You are accountable to no one but yourself, and 2) the goal of NANOWRIMO is 55,000 by the end of the month. Like I’ve said before, I’ve never participated in it, but that’s about 1800 words per day. Not within a half hour. I find this concept of fast writing intriguing because I know if I get into my story, sometimes my fingers can’t keep up with my brain.
Plus, I’ve experienced a positive result once before by doing something similar. This was back in 2012 when my first book was on submission, and I needed a distraction. We always hear about beginning new projects to take our mind off of worry, and the submission process was all so new to me then, I was trying not to act like a psycho every time the phone rang, or an email dinged into my inbox. For my own sake, I needed to write another book, partly to subdue crazy me, and partly to validate I could actually do it again.
I remember beginning in early April. By August, I was done. A completed story around 86,000 words in hand. This included editing. By my math, that’s not very fast – no where near this level of “fast writing,” in the WITS post, and not even close to NANOWRIMO, but in my mind, it was still a blistering pace because it took me 18 months to finish the last project.
My main point is, I wrote it “fast,” i.e., a consistent 1,000 wpd, with more some days, and less on others, but some number of words on page – EVERY DAY. Was it any good, you ask? Well, I sent it off to Caroline Upcher, the editor I used at the time, and two weeks later I got an email back. I opened the review letter enclosed and my eyes immediately caught the word “wonderful.” And, it got even better. (some of you have who’ve been reading my blog for a while have heard this story before) Turns out she was reconnecting with contacts in the publishing world in the U.K., and sent the ms to an agency there to read with the hope of maybe working out a translatlantic sale if a U.S. publisher picked it up. The agent, Amanda Preston, of LBA, read it, and contacted her and said, ” I absolutely love it.”
That sounds pretty exciting, right? And it was – at the time. Very. However. I decided not to go on submission for a variety of reasons that are really neither here nor there in this moment, although I do dwell on what might have happened if I’d done that. What this post is about is I do love setting goals. Yapping away about it here means I’m about to buckle down and get serious. Back in 2004 and again in 2006 I ran a marathon. One of the first things I did when I made up my mind to run in them was to state it as a fact, “I’m going to run a marathon this year.” Stating goals for all to hear is more likely to make it happen than keeping it to yourself.
And your eyes reading this is stating my goal. I will plant butt in chair and achieve 1,000 wpd for the next ninety days.
One way or the other.
*cracks knuckles, glares at keyboard.*
Have you set a self-imposed writing challenge lately?