I’m working on typing a draft of my next book. It’s already written out, and I expect it to come out between 55000 and 60000 words. How long will it take to type it? Hey, that sounds like a math problem. Let’s plug in some numbers for an estimate.
If I type 60 words per minute (I don’t know, but I think that’s reasonable.) and 3600 words in an hour, it should take about 16 hours. Even if I have no more than 4 hours a day to type, the draft should easily be finished in a week, right? It’s already been a week, and I’m not finished. Let’s apply some life to those numbers to find out why.
Reason #1 – My handwriting is awful.
Every few sentences, I need to pause to squint at the page to figure out what a word is and ask myself why I wrote something that doesn’t make any sense until I figure out that I guessed wrong the first time. Oh, that says snowy night, not swervy right.
Reason #2 – I edit as I type.
Sometimes I have to stop because I find a glaring continuity error or a stilted conversation or something else that needs immediate attention. There will be more editing later, but if something is really bad it can’t wait. Or if a character says, “Come up with something witty to say here when you type this.” Yeah, I leave notes to myself in the draft when I’m really stuck.
Reason #3 – I can’t type fast enough.
I read what I’m typing, which should go without saying. Now and then, I come to a part that I don’t remember very well. I’ll get impatient and stop typing to read ahead because I need to see where it’s going. If there’s something I don’t like, see reason number two. It’s easier to change something as I go than to back up after I realize a conversation is confusing. And if I don’t find anything I want to fix, I might look up and realize I’ve been reading for a half hour while not making progress on the typing.
Reason #4 – I get distracted.
Yeah, this should probably go without saying, too. Who doesn’t get distracted? Sometimes I hear the washer shut off and get up to put the clothes in the dryer. Sometimes the phone rings. Sometimes I remember that I’m sitting at a computer with internet access. Sometimes I look at the calendar and notice it’s been a month since my last blog post. Sometimes I grudgingly push the typing aside to work on that.
Reason #5 – My fingers get tired.
Have you ever typed for four hours straight? I don’t mean just sitting at a computer or even composing as you type. I mean trying to keep up a constant rate of words per minute. That math problem assumes I am a robot. If I manage 90 minutes or so with nothing getting in the way, the tiny muscles in my fingers begin to protest by aching and slipping onro the erong keya mote frequently. When I sense a sharp increase in backspace use, it’s time for a break.
Break’s over now, back to work for me.