Would you like to be much more productive as a writer? It’s possible, and you don’t have to turn into a machine or ingest huge amounts of caffeine to do it. (Although a bit of coffee might help goose your enthusiasm.)
If you’re like me, you wouldn’t mind increasing your writing output so you can get more books and information products to market.
This aspiration naturally leads to the question, “How much content can I reasonably expect to produce?” The best way to quantify it is to find out how many words you actually crank out per hour.
I wondered the same thing recently.
So I set out to uncover what my real writing speed is. I’m happy to share with you the results and what I learned. And I encourage you to go through this same process to determine your own writing production level.
Last month, over a nine-day period, I did seven separate writing sessions of about an hour each.
I know that some writers can sit for hours on end through marathon writing sessions. While I’ve done that in the past, these days I find I’m more effective when I focus on writing for an hour or so at a time.
The results: My grand total for all seven hours added up to 4,885 words.
That’s an average of nearly 700 words per hour. Not bad. There are people who write a lot faster, but I was pretty happy with that number.
My slowest writing session was just 465 words an hour, while I cranked out more than 1,000 words during my most productive hour.
Here’s what I learned:
- My lowest word counts came during sessions when I was less prepared and more distracted.
- When I had a clear outline of the section I was working on, I could get into it faster and make more progress.
- The more I wrote consistently day after day, the easier it was to get into a state of flow. Of course, I knew this from previous experience (and that’s why I kick myself for not writing on a more regular schedule).
- The longer the time in between writing sessions on the same book, the more energy you must expend to remind yourself where you left off and get back into the flow.
- With consistent focus and preparation, I feel confident I could probably up my hourly average to 900 or 1,000 words.
Now let’s translate this into the frequency with which you can publish new books!
To demonstrate, I’ll apply it to my situation…
If my goal is to release more titles, here’s what the math looks like related to my writing time and word count:
Let’s be modest and say I can devote two hours a day, four days a week, to working on a current book project.
That’s eight hours a week of solid writing. If I use 800 words per hour as my average, that equals about 6,500 words per week.
In just three weeks I’d have enough content for a nearly 20,000-word ebook. In five weeks of consistent effort that number would rise to 32,000 words – enough for a small paperback.
If 50,000 words was my goal, that should be easily doable in two months or less.
Of course, I realize that editing can easily reduce these numbers and rewrites can add time to the process. But I hope you agree that measuring where you are with your hourly word count gives you a way to determine your potential output.
Have you measured how many words per hour you write? Do you see the benefit of writing more in less time? What are the drawbacks of this approach?
I welcome your comments below.
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