Challenge,  On Writing

What is Up To Speed?

A Good Question…

I have said in a number of my reports lately that after all the issues with the eyes over the winter, I am now climbing back up to speed, starting slowly in April and adding a little bit each week.

But what is my speed that I am trying to get back to?

Let me do the math to explain it.

  • Fact one… I write about 1,000 words an hour with a break.
  • Fact two… I only count consumable words, such as fiction I finish (I finish everything) and nonfiction that will go to a wide audience such as an introduction to a book or this blog. I do not rewrite anything. I do not count emails or answers to comments on this blog or Facebook posts or anything like that.
  • Fact three… Since 1993 I have pretty much averaged 1.3 million consumable words per year. There were some great years in there and some bad years, but the average over those thirty years is 1.3 million per year. Yes, that seems like a lot of words and a lot of books and stories and blogs.

To the Math!!

So if you divide 1,300,000 words by 52 weeks you get 25,000 words per week.

Divide that by 7 and you get about 3,600 words per day.

I write at 1,000 words an hour, so total writing, including this blog, each day will take me about 3.6 hours.

Oh, the horrors of a 3.6 hour day of sitting and making stuff up. It is amazing I have survived such a strain for 30 years. (grin)

So that is what I mean when I say I am trying to get back up to speed. I’m trying to get back to regular writing days, even with the issues with the eyes. And I am almost there.

This short blog tonight is about 300 words and took about 15 minutes to write. Even with all the heavy math.


  • S. H. Miah

    This is the truth about “writing fast”. Most fast writers I’ve met don’t have some insane hourly speed, they just put in the graft day after day, year after year.

    And then get called a hack by younger writers because writing fast must equal writing badly of course.

    Thank God I live in the UK where the writing fast myth isn’t as prevalant.

    • dwsmith

      Actually, in the UK, there used to be writing speed challenges that were pretty large. Spectator events, actually. Not kidding.

        • dwsmith

          Guess I should bring forward my Pulp Speed post again, huh? Pulp writers are the writers that wrote in the pulp magazine era, from 1920 to 1960. A lot of paperback writers kept up the speed through the next three decades. Now indie writers are back at pulp speed and not being slowed down by the stupidity of traditional publishing.

          Pulp writers is just another name for writers of fiction who can produce more than one or two books a year.

  • Vincent Zandri

    3.6 hours per day. When I tell people I’m able to write a novel and a novelette or novella per month they look at me like I must be on speed. Then I tell them that it’s totally part time work and I have time to freelance, workout a couple hours per day, nap, fish, ski, and generally end the day at 430 or 5. Of course there’s some marketing in there too. But for some reason they believe this kind of schedule is impossible…the eds and pubs know it’s possible and it drives them insane.

    • dwsmith

      Yup, back in the day when I was working traditional, I often would do a project and then park it in a drawer for a while because I knew the editor was into the myths of it can’t be good if done quickly.

  • Susan Agee Yancy

    I’ve been wanting to write a book forever but now wondering if I actually have the 1) attention span, 2) imagination, 3) “finishing energy” a la Joanna Penn.
    At the moment, my day job is writing website content and social media posts for a small town in West TN. It pays most of the bills.

    Anyhoo – I love when you include the math. I’m big on that too.

    • dwsmith

      Susan, your critical voice is brining up those made-up issues to stop you and it is winning. Don’t let it. Remember that critical voice has one job and that is to stop you and your creative voice. Anything negative is always critical voice. Can’t write creative from a negative voice.

  • Paul

    You’ve mentioned your 1k/hr number here before, and I realized I’ve yet to calculate my own speed.

    • Sheila

      You should do it Paul! It can be an amazing motivator, and generally just nice to know.

      Set a timer, forget everything out in the world, and write. Take the output, divide by the time you set, and you have your writing speed. You can improve it/get “faster” with knowledge and practice.

  • Jason M

    A simple 1000 words/day, 5 days a week, yields 250K words, which is enough for 4 books a year. That’s about 90 minutes per day, for a massive total of 7-8 hours of work per week.
    If you can mentally get out of your own way, it can’t be easier. But people don’t want to hear that.

  • allynh

    1000 words an hour, is 16 words a minute.

    – Issac Asimov wrote 90 words a minute, on a manual typewriter.

    – Philip K. Dick wrote 120 words a minute, on a manual typewriter.

    Whether by hand or by typing, my fastest speed is 16 words a minute.

    Don’t be is such a rush. Slow down, find your own pace.

  • topaz

    I love your math posts and their undeniable logic. 🙂
    They show me every time what’s possible.

    Please bring your pulp speed posts forward again. 🙂