30 Days of Writing–Day 23: Writing Speed

Shepherd gate clock at the Royal Observatory, ...

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23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?

This topic’s pretty interesting…to me anyway because people vary tremendously in their speeds.  My writing partner, Aimee Laine, for example, crafts at turbo speed, whipping out over two novels, including edits, to my one that’s barely out of first draft stage.

My speed really depends on both the type of story and the intended audience.

I write a lot of flash fiction…real flash fiction, both in time and in length.  Usually, my work products are produced as part of Absolute Write‘s (AW) Sunday night flash fiction challenge that begins at 6 PM.  Players have 90 minutes from the reveal of the theme word to when the finished product must be posted at AW.  I usually do these in about an hour with a thousand words plus or minus a couple of hundred.  Occasionally, I’ll go an hour and a quarter if the plot twists a bit more than originally planned.  Those are my fastest writing efforts and I love having a built in excuse to do limited editing.  Ha!  You knew there had to be some lazy ass reason why I love these so much and there you have it.

I often do “Three Minute Fiction” (500-600 words) type stories based on theme words, pictures or concepts, mostly for contests.  I’ve done the past three National Public Radio (NPR) contests.  This length of story I spend the most time on in terms of average minutes per word.  Though I’ve never even won an honorable mention from NPR, I’ve won a few other judged competitions at this length.  Sometimes having a low embellishment, non poetic writing style has its benefits.

With novels, I’m all over the map.  I can write a short, pre-planned novel in less than a month.  My novella for 2009’s NaNoWriMo took me 17 days to complete the first draft of about 50k words.  An unplanned novel, however, takes much longer.  The PURE took me about six months to finish the first draft.  My Fair Vampire took seven for its first draft, including a rewrite of the ending that swelled its length from 90+k to its current 105k words.

You’d think I’d learn a lesson about the value of planning vs. pantsing (ie writing by the seat of my pants.)  I’m hoping to finish this year’s NaNoWriMo novel by the 11/30 deadline.  Unlike last year’s light romance/chick lit offering, this year’s entry will require many more than the 50k word minimum to tell the full, dark story.  Therefore, I have been planning for a while.  I outlined the entire story back in April and am now fine-tuning, doing warm-up writings and research.

Despite the NaNo trash talk I post over at AW to psych out my evil arch nemeses, Parametric and Regan Leigh, I’ll take as long I  need to get the right story down.  But keep that under your hat…they must never know I’m running scared.

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2 thoughts on “30 Days of Writing–Day 23: Writing Speed

  1. See? I may write at the speed of light for large stories, but i SWEAR a flash piece takes me 10x as long! LOL You have mastered the art of flash writing in a … flash! I will now call you Flash Claire. 🙂 Do you have a cape? Can you fly? LOL 🙂

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