17,000. Seventeen thousand. 17K. Whichever way you put it, that’s a lot of words, especially for just 11 days’ work. Unfortunately it’s just a small proportion of what’s needed for a novel, so there’s still a long way to go. I thought this blog entry would provide a brief look at some of the statistics involved.
As you should see from the chart below, since starting on 1st August I’ve achieved my word count of 1500 words a day on every day I’ve intended to write. One or two days I’ve even exceeded it, when the writing was flowing and I didn’t want to stop.
I don’t write at weekends and I decided on Friday 12th that I would spend some time reviewing what I’d written and tidying it up, so no new words were planned to be done that day.
I’ve also been logging how many words I do on average each hour. Although I’ve reached my word count every day, some days I finish earlier than others, and some I start much later. I usually have two sessions a day (morning and afternoon, surprisingly enough) and so the chart below tracks the words in each session.
The peaks are when I’m really motoring and have a good grip on the story, usually when I’ve planned or can see a scene easily. The troughs occur when I’m struggling to know what to put and often involve bits of research on the Internet to help get a feel of the scene.
Chapter and worse
I average about 4.5 hours of writing a day, but on top of that I plan and research, so on some days I’ve spent the whole working day on it. It’s getting harder now, too, as I get further into it. I had the start mapped out in my head for some time and then planned out the scenes, but now I’ve done that I’m into vaguer territory, so it’s harder just to sit down and write it as there’s more thinking to do.
Some days when I know I have to get the words done, I can feel my writing getting worse. when it’s edging towards six o’clock and you’ve clocked up 1200 words, you just want to get it done. Is that bad? I read the other day that Nick Hornby ‘can’t move on until I’ve got a paragraph right’. Well, I’d still be stuck on page 1 if that was the case! Yes, I do consider what I’m writing and sometimes go back and re-write, but as a first-time author my number one mission is to get the words done and complete the story. I know me – if I look for perfection I’ll eventually find it but by then I’ll be teleporting my book to the grandkids on the moon.
I’m up to possibly chapter 9 now. Why ‘possibly’? Well, it depends on how you split the novel. Some parts are obvious breaks, but other bits seem too short to be chapters, so I may well combine them. I’m trying to provide the hooks and intrigue at the end of each one to make the reader continue turning the page.
You’re shit, and you know you are…
With the football season now finally started (I’m a Liverpool fan if you didn’t know and have expectations that we’ll finish fifth, for the record) I’ll add a comparison to the great game. Unlike Man City’s Aguero who stormed onto the pitch in the second half of his first ever game for the blues, scored one, set up another and then launched a screamer to grab a brace, I’m not sure my debut as a novelist will be as good. Or even good at all. Perhaps even not rubbish. I have self doubts, and I’m not afraid to write about them here. Sure, 17,000 words…but are any of them good? I read about all these other novels currently around, the months of research, the English degrees and journalistic experience these other authors have, and then there’s me with a few research photos, the odd published short story and a degree in 1’s and 0’s. My novel at times seems basic, low-brow, silly in comparison, being written by a neophyte who’s trying to get in with the Premier League big boys.
But I have belief. I play to my strengths. Just as I know my left foot isn’t capable of the most tricky of skills (and my right foot barely more than standing) I play football the way I know I can play, and doing that means I can hold my own on the pitch. My novel may not end up having the sophistication of an epic set in sixteenth century France, but I’m determined to make it a damn good read.
I want to write to entertain, to tell a story people will enjoy. Will it be sellable and give me stats in £? We shall only find out in time, but I’m giving it a good go.