This post, by Dean Wesley Smith, originally appeared on his site on 2/5/11.
Truth: The slow writers in this new world of publishing are going to have trouble. Far more trouble than they had with traditional publishing only. We are in a new golden age of fiction. The first golden age was the pulp age. Speed of writing was celebrated in that time and it will be this time around as well.
Okay, say it: I have no fear. Or better yet, I’m as dumb as they come for bringing up the subject of speed of writing. Speed of writing is the third rail in publishing, but in the discussion of the new world of publishing, it has to be talked about. So here I go.
Personal Information First
I am not a fast typist, which most people think as fast writing. As many of you have watched in my accounts of writing my challenge stories, I tend to average around one page, 250 words, in about 15 minutes. I tend to write for about an hour before my mind shuts down and I have to walk around and take a break and then come back. I am not yet a touch typist, but slowly my two finger method has worked over to using four fingers. Using all ten fingers to type will never happen in my lifetime.
When I say “fast writer” I don’t mean fast typist. I hope everyone is clear on that. I am a slow typist, yet a fast writer.
I’ll explain how that can be. Stay with me.
Now Some Evil Math
250 words is about one manuscript page if you have your margins correct, and font size large enough for an editor to read, and double-spaced your page. You know, professional manuscript format. (Most of you don’t know that, I have learned, but you assume you do.)
Most people’s e-mails to me, and some of the questions in the comments sections are longer than 250 words. I’ve seen some people do 250 words in tweets in under five minutes.
250 Words = 1 Manuscript Page.
A standard novel for the sake of this discussion is 90,000 words long. So divide 90,000 words by 250 words and you get 360 manuscript pages.
So if a person spent 15 minutes per day and wrote 250 words, that person would finish a novel in one year.
Now, if that person spent 1/2 hour per day on writing and created 500 words per day, they would finish 2 novels per year and be considered prolific by many people.
Write 1,000 words per day, or about an hour, and in 270 days you would have finished three novels. And that means you would only have to do that five days a week to write three novels per year. In other words, it doesn’t take many hours to be considered prolific.
That is why I am considered prolific. I don’t type faster with my little four-finger typing, I just write more hours than most.
(Yeah, yeah, I know, simplistic, but mostly right.)
I am considered a fast writer because I spend more hours writing. Nothing more.
The Myths of Writing Faster.