Friday, October 05, 2007

Huh...Turns Out There IS Such a Thing as Too Much Writing

As I've mentioned before, I'm a prolific writer. I'm always dismayed when I read an interview with some author or other and she says "if I can get 500 good words a day..." or something like that. I averaged more than 1,000 "good words" a day when my only writing time was my 50 minute train ride and I was writing in pencil on a legal pad. Well, I suppose "good words" is open to debate, but they were as good as any of my other words.

It's not unusual, when I'm wrapped up in a project, for me to write 5,000-7,000 words a day. I've written two novels in less than a month each, one while working full time.

I say this not to annoy those of you who are striving for five hundred good words a day--that pace works well for a lot of very successful writers (most, I suspect). No, I bring this up because I want to let you in on a little secret: I always secretly thought that there was no limit. I thought that, left to my own devices, with no "real life" to intrude, I would just write until I fell asleep at my keyboard and never tire of it.

I wrote, by my best estimate (I'm too freaking tired to go back and count), 16,000 words today.
I do not know where the magical line between "total immersion" and "I'm going to die if I write another word" is, precisely, but I now know this: it comes somewhere BEFORE 16,000 words.
I'm 41 years old and I've been writing since I was six; this is the first time I've ever walked away from writing feeling worse than I did when I started. And I feel like I've been hit by a truck, physically. My body aches. My fingers are numb. My typing skills have taken a nosedive to some point just slightly lower than during the period when I was typing with my arm in a sling.

I'm a huge proponent of the idea that nothing is absolute when it comes to writing, and that no writer should ever say to other writers, "You HAVE TO..." or "Don't EVER..."
But listen. Don't EVER write 16,000 words in one day.

For the first time in my life, I got up from my desk not wishing that I had time to write a little more, but desperately craving a nice long break from writing.

That was four hours ago. I guess "nice long" is open to interpretation, too.


absolutelytrue said...

Oh my... 16,000 words in one day and then you STILL blogged. I have to say, and I do really mean it, I am in awe of you.

My sister loves to write, and she is actually good at it. However, she has been working on 1 novel.. umm.. I'd say for around the last 10 years or so. And I have heard the plot and I know the basic story so I know it would be a great and very unique novel, if she would only finish it.

If I could encourage her to just do 500 "good words" a day it would be fantastic. I think if she, or I, even attempted to write 16,000 words in one day we would need a team of paramedics over here.

Rest up, I know you have another 16,000 in you. Perhaps you shouldn't put them all down in one day, but I know they are in there.

By the way, I hate tags as much as anyone, but... you're it.

Above the Influence said...

16,000 words congratulations. Is it a good story at least? what are you novels about, I am a writer myself though not nearly as intensely It's just a hobby I enjoy. If you write about topics I like I'd love to read some of them.

Barb said...

You know, I've resisted the whole notion of hitting a word count per day but I realize that I need to start hitting a productive, good word count every day. Not counting e-mail and blogging.

I resisted it but the truth is, you wrote as much in one day as I have in four years working on my book.