The Writing Productivity Experiment of Doom (or Great Success, Depending)

All around me, wherever I look, it seems like there’s another writer who is faster, more productive, more focused, and, because of all that, more successful in this full-time author life (job? life?) than I am. Drafts finished in record time, announcements of book deals, two-book deals, three-book deals, novellas on top of book deals, blogs of genius, plus all the promotional energy that goes into this author thing, and I’m left in the dust carving out my little sentences and making sure I don’t repeat the same adjective too many times in a span of 350 pages like anyone will even notice but me. And you know what? There are writers like those other writers—not unicorns; they exist; they work hard and they are fast and all the myths are true. Also true: THEY ARE NOT ME.

So knowing I struggle with this, you may think that joining a writing productivity experiment inspired by Rachel Aaron, a mythical creature who has found a way to write 10,000 words a day, would be exceedingly unhealthy and worthy of an intervention if anyone who cares about me is here reading. (The article is long, but if you want her detailed method, here it is.) But when Holly Black first tweeted the link and I took a peek at the method, I was intrigued. So then Project: Write Faster happened. And then I was involved in it. And then I don’t even know anymore.

I don’t think any of us are trying for 10,000 words. I know I’d simply like more words, and more focused words I’ll end up keeping instead of cutting later, and if that turns out to be an average of 1,000 words a day, I’d be thrilled.

THRILLED.

Because I think that’s twice what I normally write.

Since shouting from the rooftops that I’d be taking part in this craziness, of course, I had a revision to finish—FINISHED! Let’s pretend you saw a blog about it; I was feeling too spent and pleased and private to write one—and the experiment got pushed aside for some days. I was supposed to start on Friday, in fact, and I haven’t had the energy to do so yet.

But I do still mean to come up with some personalized, adapted version of this method pinging off what Rachel Aaron found works for her, simply to try it out, to try something. I’m especially curious to see how and when and where I write the best—and I love color-coded charts, and have made them for every single day job I’ve had since grad school. Why not let myself make a chart!

But aside from the pleasures of color-coding, there’s something more behind all of this: I do want to write faster. I want to find my best pace—knowing it won’t match the pace of the superstar commercial writers, because how could it?—and I want to make a true and honest effort to work toward it every day. I am known to despise word counts, and have said so publicly, but if keeping track of my word counts for a short while helps me know what works best for me, then I’ll do so. And then I’ll stop keeping track. Because I don’t believe it’s about the number of words. I believe it’s about how worthy those words are. I want to write words I will keep later.

So I may be attempting to somehow keep track of unscientific things beyond number of words, like: 1) sense of accomplishment; 2) desire to cut later; 3) happiness; and other immeasurable things like that.

It’s all about pushing ourselves in the reality we live in. I’m not wishing I were another writer. I’m wanting to know what works for me and wishing I could be my best writing self.

(And I’d really like a new book contract this year. That’s not crazy talk. That’s being at the end of a two-book deal and looking ahead to what’s next so I can build this career. In order to make this happen, I have to produce pages.)

If you would like to take part in the intervention to talk me out of this, feel free to add a comment.

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