As I mentioned last week, I’ve finished Fletcher & Cooper! I know I was a little bit unsure of whether I would finish, but I ended up powering through the last week of Camp NaNo (beating a one-day wordcount record in the process) to completion on the last day of the month.
After my initial euphoria–I FINISHED IT!!!–came a low: it’s gone, I finished it. There’s always a little hole in my life after I finish a novel, like I’m saying goodbye to people moving across country. Sure, I’ll see them again from time to time but it won’t be the saaaaame. I’m going to miss that goofy swashbuckling moron and his broken little companion (and Almina; she was a firecracker). But Space Crazies is a’calling, life moves on, and I got shit to do, so into a metaphorical drawer it goes to ferment for a while.
But first: the maths!
Fletcher & Cooper By the Numbers
Date started: November 1, 2018
Date I wrote “the end”: July 30, 2019
Date I finished all the scenes I skipped: July 31, 2019
Total number of days between start and end dates: 273
Total number of work days (since I usually only write M-F): 188
Since there were some months I didn’t work on F&C at all (January, May, June), that number ought to be quite a bit lower, but then it starts to look TOO LOW and freaks me out, so let’s go with 188.
Finished wordcount: 204,147
Let me just pull that number out so we can appreciate it properly:
204,147 mother-effing words.
Obviously it’s going to need to be a) chopped down and b) sorted into two books. But that’s Future Victoria’s problem and a blag post for another time.
If I take 204,147 and divide it by the effective work days, I get a very modest 1,085 words per day. That’s M-F, holidays excepted. 1,085. That’s it. That number is why I write these posts; very often I hear from people who tell me that they don’t understand how I find the time to write so much when the truth is more often than not I am writing for only an hour in the morning, maybe two. I generally aim for 2000 words and usually come in under–which is why I started doing 5K Fridays, as a way to catch-up.
I think the “how do you manage” misunderstanding breaks down into two main areas: not realizing that low daily targets are the compound interest of the writing world and wanting to make sure all those 1,000 words are good. That’s an issue for another blag (and/or a therapist) but I really, really want hesitant-writers and writer-wannabees reading this to understand: I do not care about whether my words for the day are good, merely coherent. Making them “good” is what editing is for!
So while 204,147 words in less than a year is still impressive–it represents a goodly amount of work, planning, griping, and willingness to drink Redbulls–it is not witchcraft. You can do it too. Just takes a butt in a chair and a willingness to attack the keyboard until you reach ‘the end’.
But your mileage, as ever, may vary, since I certainly don’t write 1,000 words a day like clockwork. I write in binges:
The suspiciously round numbers just mean I hit my target for that month and declined to keep the scraps of paper I write my wordcounts on.
November: 75,199 words
December: 10,000 (half-hearted noodling)
January: bupkis (I did write 24,000 word novella, though)
February: 25,000 (mostly filling in skipped scenes)
April: 41,774 (like pulling teeth, god i hated it)
May: absolutely nothing
June: worse than May somehow
July: 48,169 words
Best day: 26 July, 2019
Word count: 10,426
Previous record: 7,800 (approx) for Ashes in January 2015
(If you haven’t already read Rachel Aaron’s blog post on how to increase your word counts per day, I highly recommend it; especially if you don’t have/want a regular writing schedule.)
Personally I still can’t believe I did 10K+ in a day. Blows. My Mind.
The 200,000+ that is Fletcher & Cooper is so big my mind can’t grasp enough of it to be blown, to be honest. If you add in To Ulmaray and Beyond (the Livingstone & Weekday novella I wrote in October in a week) and That Restless Mediocrity (Fletcher’s prequel) that I wrote in January, I’ve written almost a quarter of a million words in this world alone in under a year.
And if you divide that by 200 days (to add in the two weeks of October and round up) it’s still only 1,500 words a day, M-F, if you’re regular and responsible. Impressive, but not witchcraft. And probably easier on the old noggin than my redbull fueled binges but, as ever, do what works.
I started Fletcher & Cooper back in 2011 based on a dream I’d had. I wrote a few scenes, then tucked it away when life got in the way. But obviously it meant more to me than I thought because it kept percolating back up to the surface until 2018 when I was ready to finally give it a proper go.
Here we are in 2019 and it’s finally all out on paper. Is the draft bad? Yes. Is it coherent? Close enough. Is it going to be a while before I can edit it? Fuck yes, there’s a whole fucking line-up. But that’s a post for another day.
If there’s one take-away that I want everyone to get from this numbers round-up: small, regular goals add up. Do the thing that you have been putting off, even if it’s only a small portion of the thing. Tomorrow do another small portion. Take the weekends off (or whatever). Settle in for the long haul, but remember it’s the small steps that add up, even when you can’t always see the progress.