Sunday, August 12, 2012

Speedy McSpeederson

I just hit the go button on the sport timer (built into my Sansa Clip Zip). I am going for another speed blog.  How very exciting, hmmm..?

First things first: What is a speed blog? Answer: A post done as fast as possible, start to finish. Caveat--without looking at the keyboard and/or preparation (lworking from an earlier draft or recording, or planning out the topic, etc.)

Question numero dos: Why do a speed blog? Answer: Because I want to practice touch-typing, because I like to force myself to think on my feet, and because It makes an interesting subject. Which brings us to the following point.

I'm interested in working on the mechanical aspects of writing because the long-term benefits are substantial. I think of stories and ideas far faster than I can get them on paper. Once on paper, getting them to where they are well-written and interesting is a further time-sink. And I--like everyone--am working with a finite amount of time.

My current working model assumes another twenty years of productive writing. If lucky I may get thirty or forty, but I'll stick with what I feel confident about (barring accident or illness). When I push, I produce about 500 to 1,000 words an hour. Editing/revisions double that time. So call it 500 finished words.

My goal is to spend four hours a day on new fiction (when I go full-time, at the moment I only get an hour on average). This adds up to 730,000 yearly (4 x 365 x 500). Weekends and vacations will likely take a chunk out of that total, but it's good enough for today's purposes.

It does no good if those words are all poopy, so I need to get it right the first time as much as possible. I need to edit and revise efficiently. In order to reach these goals (moving targets, really), I need to not just write, but practice as I write. I try to improve some aspect of my craft every time I sit down, by consistently and deliberately targeting a skill or technique.

And writing speed, while not particularly relevant to overall quality, is a skill. More apropos, writing fast and well is a learnable skill. The faster I get a handle on it and the better I get at it, the longer I will be able to reap the benefits. For instance:

What if I increase my writing speed by a mere ten words an hour? 4 x 365 x 510 = 744600.  14,600 extra a year, about 3 short stories worth. Over twenty years that's  292,000. Three more novels (or one doorstop). All from a 2% gain in speed.

Or how about blogging? How much time do I spend every week on my posts? If I could cut it by five or ten percent, or more, how much time would I save? (Time I could spend getting in a little more writing.)

Assuming quality stays consistent--or even better, improves--a modest gain in writing speed on the mechanical side of things will pay huge dividends down the line.

I want a career, not a story or a book or to say the one thing I want to say. I want to be at this for a long time, to leave behind a body of work that is as vast and deep as possible. That's why I'm speed-blogging.

I am a razor; I hone myself.

Final note: 31:56.5. Thirty-one minutes, fifty-six and a half seconds. Not bad, huh? (Add another eleven minutes or so for editing.) 617 words. ~800 WPH (words per hour). Wheeee!!!

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