Prolixity of this magnitude is astonishing to say the least! Mr. Thayer goes on to talk about other writers who produced prose at a slower rate.English writer, Charles Hamilton—who used twenty-five pseudonyms, the most famous being Frank Richards—was so prolific that George Orwell accused him of being a team of writers. Hamilton responded, “In the presence of such authority, I speak with diffidence; and can only say that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, I am only one person, and have never been two or three.” He wrote a million and a half words a year, or about twenty pages each working day (assuming 250 working days in a year).
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings as one novel, which contains about 670,000 words. It took him eleven years, which is 245 words each working day, or a little less than a typed page.Some writers manage their time by devoting certain hours of the day to authorial pursuits. T.S. Eliot had a full time job at the bank, so he made time to write by rising "two hours earlier than was strictly necessary." Rudyard Kipling had his own daily pattern of writing "in the middle of the day, from ten to four." Stephen King writes only in the mornings and reserves the rest of the day for other tasks. Detective fiction author Anne Perry writes "eight or nine hours a day, six days a week."
After discussing the writing habits of many famous authors, Mr. Thayer suggests his own answer to the question: how many words a day? "Writing your novel will be easier if you draft a schedule," he says. "A plan...will organize and prod you, and it will increase the odds you complete the novel." Here is the schedule he proposes:
Initial plotting: one or two weeks.I could not read Mr. Thayer's proposed schedule without immediately wondering: how does my writing measure up to this? Whenever I spend time writing my novel, I generally get anywhere from 500-1000 words on the page. Unlike Anne Perry and other disciplined writers, however, I most definitely do not write six days a week. Usually, it's more like one to three days a week. Crunching the numbers, it seems that I am a little slower than he recommends, and it will probably take me longer than a year to write my current novel, Road from the West.
Research and further plotting: four to six weeks.
Drafting outline: two to three weeks.
Writing the novel: one page (300 words) a day. Finish the novel one year after starting the first manuscript word. If you work full time, 300 words a day is a reasonable goal.
Editing the completed manuscript: about one month.
Would setting a stricter writing schedule increase my speed? Not necessarily. Mr. Thayer himself remarks that for some people, "a detailed plan is too easy to fall behind, and then discard in frustration." A strict schedule may inspire some authors to keep going with their writing, but for me, it's something else entirely. I have the special motivation of having a husband who asks me about my progress almost every day, who reminds me that I should be writing whenever I complain that I have nothing to do, and who eagerly anticipates the completion of my next book so that he can launch it into the marketplace of publishers. I don't need a schedule; I have David. Which reminds me...I need to stop blogging and get back to working on that novel in case he asks me about it when he gets home tonight.