Progress update: Three months of writing
Being a Business Analyst, there’s an analytical part of my brain that is always ticking over. It never stops interrogating, categorising or reflecting. So even before I wrote my first word, I thought it would be a good idea to keep a track of my progress. Initially I thought it would solely be an interesting exercise, as I always see a lot of discussion on daily word counts, with people trying to reach daily limits and setting themselves daily or weekly goals. Twinned with questions that I’ve seen online about what word counts should be for different genres, I thought I would also be able to use the data to estimate what my total word count might be. And that in turn would give me an indication of when I’m likely to finish. What I didn’t expect was for the process of tracking the progress to provide motivation.
As I close down my Word document at night, I check the word count and then update my spreadsheet, before backing everything up to Google Drive.
The simple process of updating the sheet is almost like gaming my writing. It’s an added incentive, and helps to motivate me to write each night so that I can see the word count escalating, and watch that cumulative line climb ever higher on the graph. I’m loving the writing process, but a little extra inspiration always helps.
I’m not making as much progress as I’d like, but between having a wife, a 3 year old, a 1 month old and a dog, and doing compressed hours, I’m happy enough as free time is scarce.
Before our awesome son George arrived, I had two sessions per week at night time, between 2-4 hours, and wrote when I could at lunch times at work, usually about 50 minutes. Now it’s more ad-hoc at home but I write whenever I can, as well as keeping up with the lunch time sessions where possible.
I’m actually more productive writing at home at the moment, because I’ll use the tablet when the wife goes to bed early for extra sleep, whilst I mind George. Typing on the tablet using a Bluetooth keyboard in the living room means a lot less procrastination.
After three months I’m up to 19,327 words. And looking at the data, I’ve had 33 sessions over a 95 day period. My average daily word count is 203. Per session it is 585. I’ve then used this data along with the scene outlines and chapter progress to estimate what my total word count will be, and therefore deduce a likely finish date for the first draft.
Estimating the finish date based on my scene breakdown
Checking my scene breakdown, I’m 19.21% of the way through it. Which estimates my total word count at 100,624. This means it’s going to take me 400 days to complete the first draft. Finishing on the 4th of March 2016.
I was demoralised when the cell first calculated, but after pondering for a bit I resolved to try and get that down as much as possible. I certainly don’t want to rush through it, just to get it finished. But it will motivate me try and write even more, whenever I can. Looks like I’ll need to knock gaming out completely if I want to finish earlier. And finishing off those mixes I had planned is right out.
Estimating the finish date based on chapters completed
The other way I’ve calculated the finish date is based on the chapters I’ve completed, versus how many are remaining. I’ve completed six chapters, averaging at 3,221 words per chapter. I have 19 chapters remaining, giving a remaining word count of 61,202. This gives me an estimate of 301 days. Finishing on the 29th of of December 2015.
OK, that feels substantially better.
The two estimates aren’t that close, but I’ll only be able to tell which the better method was once I get finished. I’ll refine this again in another three months and see how it’s changed.
Total word count for my genre
Most of the opinion on this puts the total word count for sci-fi between 70,000/80,000 and 100,000/115,000 depending on the source.
It looks like I’m coming in bang on target for the first draft, with my range being between 80,529 and 100,624.
And finally, here’s the data…