Thursday, December 16, 2021

Pulp Speed - Writing Friend Hits 900k words

A writer friend of mine, Rick Partlow, posted a writing update on FB recently. He said he’ll round out the year by finishing his 10th book while clocking 900,000 words for 2021.

For sure that’s dope.

Congrats, Rick, if you’re reading this. That’s averaging about 2,500 words a day. Including, he says, Christmas and his birthday!

How can someone possibly write TEN 90,000-word books a year? Um. Didn’t I just explain that? Twenty-five hundred words a day. Simple.

Let’s break it down. Personal numbers here. I can write about 500 words an hour, which isn’t very fast from what I’ve read and heard from others. Some writers can type 1000 words an hour.

Speed could depend on the subject matter, I suppose. This blog post so far, for example, is already at 125 words and I’ve spent, what, 10 minutes on it? Fiction follows the same trajectory, though, imo.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.
Because the math is what the math is. For me, 2500 words translates to 5 hours of writing. 

People. You work 8 or 9 or 10 hours a day for The Man, surely you can find a few hours to write for yourself each day. Butts in chairs.

I actually try to get 500 words done in 45 minutes so that I can take a stretch, walk, and jumping jacks break. Gotta protect that back, those shoulders, wrists, and fingers!

Plus, I cycle write and edit as I go. Meaning, I’ll sprint for 100 words or so, read what I’ve written, make slight course corrections, then power forward another 100 words. Then cycle back, re-read, figure out what’s next and plow ahead.

In essence, I’m a one-draft writer. Sure, when the story is complete (mostly short stories and novellas, I’ve really only written 4 short books so far), I’ll read through it for any typos or glaring omissions, but I don’t edit and re-edit and rehash and “fix” it to death.

Multiple edits. Sheesh. That’s the best way to take all the uniqueness out of a story and make it sound like everyone else’s story out there. Leave your voice in your work! (done ranting, sort of, lol)

The great pulp writers of the past (and even today) were one-draft writers. Dean Wesley Smith has an interesting history of the pulp era and how these writers could produce so much material. Check out his article on “Pulp Speed” on his blog.

According to DWS, Partlow is approaching “Pulp Speed One” (think Star Trek’s warp drive!). That’s 1 million words a year. Pulp Speed Six is 2 million words a year. And interestingly, DWS has a goal to complete 12 novels and a short story a day in 2022. He’ll need to pass Pulp Speed Six to do it!

I know what some of you are thinking, that quantity can’t be quality; that ‘real’ writers slave over their manuscript for a year or more; that writers only work on one story at a time; blah blah blah.

These are myths, but I don’t have time to explode them right now. You see, I just passed 500 words and it’s been 30 minutes or so. Time to stretch, take a walk, and do a few jumping jacks.

Next time, I’ll share my 2022 goals and try to bust up some of those writer myths that so many of us believe. Until then, what are some of your writing goals for next year?

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