April 04, 2013

Word Count Envy

I'm not one of those fortunate few able to spend countless hours each day writing to my heart's content. When I see comments by authors on blogs or in group discussion threads wherein they refer to writing two thousand words a day, or eight thousand words during the course of a weekend, a fleeting sense of envy does surge through me.

Imagine my output of published (albeit self-published) works were I capable of dedicating similar quantities of time to writing. The remaining eight books of "The Psi Squad" series would be finished by the end of 2013. And those two murder mysteries I've outlined? I'd be celebrating their sales by this time next year!

Instead, I'm lucky to manage three thousand good words a week. Why?

Well, let's see. Among the things getting in the way of daily writing are: cycling class, breakfast, bringing the boys to school (sometimes), bringing my daughter to school (sometimes), work (and that handy thing called a salary that comes along with work), business travel, meetings, phone calls, laundry, lunch, more work, picking the boys up from school (sometimes), picking my daughter up from school (sometimes), dinner, helping with homework and projects, dance, hockey, church, church youth group, marching band boosters, band concerts, after school meetings, and sleep. Oh, yes, don't forget that every now and then I wouldn't mind spending quality down time with my wife and children, which is why I don't even think about writing on weekends.

It seems my problem stems from not being able, or willing, to give any of that up. All that stuff makes up my life, such as it is at the moment, and it's all meaningful and rewarding. My resulting writing time consists of a maximum of two, maybe three, hours wrenched in bits and pieces from each busy week, but that's okay.

If nothing else, I've discovered a slow pace has forced me to think more about what I'm writing than I otherwise might have. It allows me to fully consider the seven-hundred words for the new murder mystery (working title "RevPAR") and the four-hundred words for the second "Psi Squad" book I cranked out in an hour Tuesday morning before I advance to the next scenes. All that time for extra thinking helps me catch plot holes and fix mistakes before I get too far ahead of myself.

You other writers go ahead and write your two thousand words a day, if only because some oft-quoted remark from Stephen King has you believing you're not a serious writer if you don't achieve that daily goal. Go ahead and celebrate NaNoWriMo by cramming during the month of November to complete an entire novel in thirty days. I did enough last-minute, panic-fueled, late-night writing during college to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. If self-imposed deadlines and massive word-count goals are the things that feed your passion for writing, then God bless and best of luck.

I'll continue to envy your production levels, but I'm not interested in trading places with any of you.

© 2013 Mark Feggeler