Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How to be a High Speed Writer

Someone sent me an email with a link to a story about an author who puts out 7000-10,000 words a day. I've seen it a couple of times in different venues. It's at

People mentioned how "fast" he was. Really? Did they read the article? He works from 8 am to midnight. Okay, let's say he just sticks to an 8 hour day. That's just about 1000-1200 words an hour. That is well within the range of most professional writers. One 80,000 word book at even 5000 words a day (and many of us have done that during Nanowrimo) is just 16 days or a little
Photo by William Warby
over two weeks. That leaves another three weeks for editing and proofreading. Let's say it takes twice as long to edit as to write, that's another four weeks. Okay, that's six weeks. And if you are working 8 hours a day 5000 words is just 675 words or about a page and a half of single spaced copy an hour.

That's not "fast writing" at all. That's actually pretty slow. I do rough drafts at about 1200-1500 words an hour. If I'm using speech recognition, it's closer to 2000.

No, these prolific authors are not "fast." They are consistent, and they put in the hours.

They don't squawk about not having time to write. They don't take off an afternoon because the kids want to go shopping, anymore than they would if they were working for a paycheck.

We talk a lot about professionalism in writing. Most has to do with craft - clean copy, good characters, etc. - but the work of many amateurs outstrips many professionals in those categories. No. The one aspect of professionalism rarely mentioned is the time spent at the keyboard turning out copy on a consistent basis. No bemoaning an absent "Muse" or being "uninspired." No decisions to take off in the middle of a work day and "play hookey." No change of schedule for the holidays other than the days they would have taken off if they were working for another employer. If visitors show up, they don't take off work to hangout with them anymore than they would if they were working full-time.

Now, that might not be the type of life you want to live. I have, and I'm backing away from it for awhile. But don't expect those results. And don't be "amazed" at the "speed" of the writing. You can do the same, if you are willing to first make the commitment to the time spent and second are willing to make the sacrifices.

It's not magic or talent, it's just plain old hard work.


  1. I love this post. So true! We must give credit where it's due, and some people just plain put in more work.

  2. Way to break it down! Thanks. It's a fascinating topic.

  3. Saw your link on the ACFW loop. Excellent article. So true. Thanks for posting!!

  4. I've accepted the fact that I will never be fast. I enjoy the writing process and my life. I'm not tied to my computer for 8-12 hours each day. I do most of my writing before the rest of my family wakes up. I'm fine with the schedule and results. I'm not ever going to be a full time writer with contracted deadlines. Been there. Done that. Didn't enjoy it.

  5. Well, I'm stepping back a ways from my more full-time writer approach. However, well I think an amateur approaches perfectly good for many of us, we can't expect eight hour a day productivity for two hours a day of work. So, if we are wanting to trade off any number of things such as a day job, time with a spouse, time with family, for that productivity, that's fine. However, if we want to do full-time freelance writing, we have to put in full-time hours. This guy isn't amazing. He just works like an ox. The problem is most writers want it both ways. They want the flexibility to do things other than their job, but then they complain that they don't have time to write or complete projects. We all have the same amount of time. It's how we choose to use it that matters. That doesn't mean that writing should be our top priority. However, if it is not then we should not expect the same results as if it were.