Saturday, March 12, 2016

Keeping Track of Writing Time

Scott D. Parker

One thing remains obvious whether you get to write for a living like many of my fellow DSDers do or write as a second job like I do: Producing fiction is a job. With any job, fiction writing or otherwise, it’s often good to know the pace at which you are producing The Whatever. In my case—day job at a ‘regular’ job and write fiction on the side with a determination to make the latter the only job—the pace at which I produce content directly affects my prospects of selling books. Obvious. The more books and stories I have for sale, the greater the likelihood readers will find said tales and read them.

Based on past experience, I’ve learned that I can produce a book in little over a month. The last two novels I’ve written—both north of the standard 80,000-word length—took me 40 days and 35 days respectively. But what I’ve never been able to determine is the actual *pace* of writing. I’m talking words/hour. Well, a friend of mine—David, the graphic designer who created the cover for ALL CHICKENS MUST DIE—actually supplied me with a good way to track word count and time.

Hours Tracker is exactly what you think it is: an app that tracks the time taken to do anything. It’s free and it’s literally a time clock. Punch in and punch out, or, in this case, “Clock In Now” and “Clock Out Now”. The level to which this app keeps track of time is pretty granular. What exactly is 0.38 hours? I don’t know either. Hush. I don’t want to do the math.

Every morning when I sit to write, I pull out my iPod and clock in. I blaze away on the keyboard, and then clock out when I’m done. There’s a notes option and I include the chapter number and the number of words. What’s also neat about the overall display is that the first line of each note is shown, so you can get a quick overview of each sessions word count. At top, there is the total time.

Ever since 1 March when I started this new novel—a western with the working title of ALWAYS BET ON RED—I’ve clocked in *every* session. This includes the various 3-minute bursts I do at the day job on my iPod when I take breaks.

Something remarkable showed itself: I’ve not been able to write for a solid hour yet this month…but I’ve already amassed 22,000 words. Now, that’s a bit of a cheat. I started with a 7,100-word short story, but that’s still 15,000 or so new words in 11 days or 21 sessions.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the time to write exists. You just have to decide to do it. When you do, and do it consistently, you can amass enough words for a story, novella, novel, or series.

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