A Year of Writing

Philip HarrisMetrics, Writing0 Comments

It’s been said many times by many people much smarter than me that the secret to successful writing is to write every day. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, it exercises your writing muscles and makes them stronger. You get into a rhythm, you improve.

With that in mind, on 29th June 2013, I set myself a challenge to write something, some piece of fiction, every single day. The last time I did was back in 2010 that I wrote every day for 197 days in a row before taking a break.

As of Sunday, I’ve written every day for a full year and I’m a very happy bunny.

As I’ve demonstrated previously, I’m pretty obsessive about tracking my writing so I have a fair amount of data on that one year writing streak.

First off, I wrote 253,189 words. That’s an average of 694 words a day – a nice increase from the 665 words per day I managed over the first three hundred days so I’m pleased with that.

Those words took me 16 days, 2 hours and 50 minutes to write, or 655 words per hour which is down from the 673 words per hour at the three hundred day mark. As you’ll see in a minute, that’s probably because of the amount of revising I’ve been doing.

This is a graph of how those words came together.

dailywordcount-year1

(Click for a legible version)

The blue line is the number of words that day, the weird green coloured line is the total number of words and the red line is a 7 day rolling average to smooth out the spikes in daily word count and give a better sense of my productivity.

This next graph shows the word count broken down by the type of writing I was doing – outlining, new material, rewriting or revising.

totalwordcount-yearone

(Click for a legible version)

Obviously plenty of revision and rewriting thanks to The Ghost Smuggler and Glitch but there’s still a very healthy 153,459 words of fresh-from-my-brain-to-the-page writing.

Finally, this the a graph of the time spent on each type of writing.

totaltimespent-yearone

(Click for a legible version)

You can clearly see there how much slower it is to revise and rewrite, it’s close to a 50:50 split between time spent writing new words and time revising/rewriting (51:49 if you want to be more accurate).

So that’s how much I wrote, but what did I write?

Most of my time was spent on two novels – The Ghost Smuggler rewrite and Glitch Mitchell and the Unseen Planet. Neither of them are finished of course, but I’m optimistic that they will be done by the end of 2014.

But, I did complete ten new short stories:

  • The Princess (150 words)
  • The Mirror (283 words)
  • Lifeboat (205 words)
  • The Bone Boy (4,513 words)
  • Saviour (4,920 words)
  • In the Shadow of Memories (5,136 words)
  • Clockwork Girl (984 words)
  • Twelve Things You Need to Know About Merfolk (991 words)
  • Immersion Therapy (3000 words)
  • The Face on Benefit Street (3,156 words)

And of course there is Leah, which is sitting at over 15,000 words and is almost finished. Plus various odds and ends, outlines and exercises.

All in all, a very successful year. I even managed to break the completely arbitrary but still satisfying 250,000 word barrier although the nerd in me would have loved to have hit 256,000.

Tracking my writing so closely has really paid off. Once I was a few weeks into the streak, my obsessive nature kicked in and I never even considered skipping writing for a day. And that’s ignoring the little pushes it gives me like trying to set a new daily record or break the next ‘ooo barrier for the week. Luckily, I have a very supportive wife who’s quite happy to let me sit in my office writing instead of going for long walks on the beach.

How long can I keep the streak going? I don’t know but I do know that I’ve got a whole host of ideas I’m just itching to work on. I also have a plan to get them out into the world and into readers’ hands but more on that another day.

[A Year of Writing by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 1st July 2014]

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