Please don't base your success or failure by what you read on the internet

I don’t normally bash other people’s posts.  If you own a blog you have the right to say anything you want.  Right?  Well, in this case no.  And I’ll tell you why.

I was reading a post (I won’t reveal what blog or the author because that wouldn’t be right) where a young writer stated…  She read an article about authors who have “made it” and they said they wrote 1000 words per hour.  Well, I don’t know where she found this article or what it actually said, BUT she ran with it.  Advising all new writers to set their word count goals to 1000 words PER HOUR!  That’s right, 1000 words per hour.  No excuses.  Her words, not mine.

As I read this post I couldn’t believe the so-called advice she was giving to new writers.  It got my hackles up big time!

An-Arabian-wolf-in-a-defensive-posture

 

She went on to say you could write a full-length novel– only writing one hour per day mind you– in less than eight weeks.  I thought about her logic for a half of a second.  Anyone who has ever read Stephen King’s memoir On Writing knows that he sets his writing goal to 2000 words per DAY, not per HOUR.  Is he not considered an author who has “made it”?  Using her logic, since I write full-time, every day, all day, I could write a 50,000 word novel in three days!  Three days!!!  How ridiculous is that?

With her post she just demolished any chance a new writer had of actually producing something worth reading.  She also added way too much pressure to an already pressure-filled industry.  There are many new writers who need to work full-time to keep food on the table.  Those writers probably only have one hour a day to write.  And someone just starting out doesn’t know any better not to listen to her.  I know I didn’t when I first started writing.  But what happens when they don’t meet that word count in one hour?  You know what happens.  They think, “I’ve failed.”  “I’ll never make it as an author.”  “Why did I think I could do this!”

As I said, writers have enough pressure on them, why add more by this ridiculous goal?

Now I’m not saying it can’t be done.  I’ve done it myself, on a good day.  But to think you can keep that kind of word count up throughout an entire novel is absurd!

You should’ve seen the comments from brand new writers.  “Thank you for your advice.  I only have an hour a day to write.  It’s nice to know it won’t take me more than two months to complete my first novel.”  Boy are they in for a rude awakening.  And sadly, a lot of sleepless nights while their inner voice tells them they can’t possibly be a writer.  They can’t have their dream because they’re just not good enough.

It angers me that she did this to them.  It really does.  I’m all about supporting one another, not putting unrealistic expectations on someone just starting out.

seriously

Let’s break it down using her logic.

What about structuring your novel?  Are you just supposed to forget about hitting the checkpoints along they way?  Hook, Back story, Trigger, Crisis, Struggle, Epiphany, Plan, Climax, Ending.  If you’re trying to write 1000 words an hour, how do you have time to even think about the checkpoints?

And what about structuring your scenes?  Goal, Conflict, Setback.  Should we skip those too?

Then there’s your sequels…  Reaction, Dilemma, Decision, which leads you back to Goal.  Skip those as well?  I wrote a few posts about structure.  Here and here are two of them that might interest you.

How about making sure your MRUs are properly separated?  You can’t have your motivation in the same paragraph as your reaction.  (I wrote a post about MRUs which you can check out here.) Or maybe in her world it doesn’t matter.

I haven’t even touched on plot and pacing.

Trying to produce 1000 words an hour doesn’t leave you with much time to think about where your plot is going, never mind time to make sure you’re pacing the novel correctly.

Now, what if you reach a point in your story that you have to ensure your facts are correct in order for it to sound believable?  You certainly can’t take the time to research.  You need to hit that goal of 1000 words per hour!  So what happens then, in her world?  You just wing it?

Let’s take the novel that I’m working on now as an example.  Twice I referenced places– a restaurant and a racing track– that if I hadn’t stopped to research where they were and what the places looked like inside, to refresh my memory, I wouldn’t have known that both the places shut down!  One closed its doors in 2010 and one in 2012.  I would never have thought these places would’ve ever closed.  Both were landmarks in the area and had been in business for decades.  That just shows you how crucial research is when writing a novel.  By this blog’s crazy word count I wouldn’t have been able to stop long enough to find these things out.  Why?  I have to reach 1000 words per hour!

Now let’s discuss the quality of writing.  What kind of quality will you get if all you’re thinking about is producing x-amount of words per hour?  Garbage, most likely.

Realistically speaking, yes, you can write 1000 words per hour some of the time.  I wrote my last short story in two hours and it was 2,800 words.  However, since I wrote it so fast it took me another 10 hours to edit it, revamp it, add to it, substitute stronger verbs, etc…

You could ignore all of the above and just free write your novel.  You could.  But why make more work for yourself?  I find it much easier to write my first drafts with some structure to them.  In my opinion, the first drafts come out better, have less editing required, and don’t sound like utter garbage when I read through them the second time.  It’s a preference for sure.  I’ve heard many authors who say all of their first drafts suck.  And that’s fine, if it’s okay with them.  For me, I expect more than that from myself.  Maybe I’m strange, but I don’t like to look at my work and say, “This is horrible!”  I’d want to trash it all and start over.

I find if I apply some thought while I’m writing, keep structure and pacing in mind, I’m better off for it.  But I wouldn’t have time if I had a ticking clock sitting next to me waiting to scream at me that I failed.

This author went on to say, if you are a good little writer and hit that goal of 1000 per hour then she WILL ALLOW you 15 minutes of Facebook time.  If not, no Facebook or social media for you.

Allow me?  Who does she think she is?

You'll drive yourself insane with that word count

You’ll drive yourself insane with that word count

What she so ignorantly left out is that if you don’t use social media to promote your work, yourself, and build your brand as an author, no agent will touch you.  They do Google you before offering representation.  As they should.  They want to gather information about you…   Things like, what kind of author will you be to work with?  Are you someone that complains about the industry?  Or are you willing to work your tail off and do everything in your power to succeed?  If you have little or no online presence that agent might pass on representing you.  That means your books will never see the light of day, unless you self-publish them yourself.  And even if you do decide to go the self-publishing route, you won’t have any readers without a strong online presence.

Seriously, folks, what was she thinking with this post???   Is it me?  Is it so strange that I want to produce something that’s worth reading?  What are your thoughts about producing 1000 per hour, every hour?

2 Comments

  1. After writing two works over 70k each and still not having them finished I can safely agree with you Sue. Fitting writing with work life and family life cane be a challenge and a 1000 and hour… wow, if you can do it, by all means go for it but I reckon you’d be a uniquely prolific writing or some kind of android. Great post and I agree, some advice should be taken with a pinch of salt but with blogs like yours and many others, there are plenty of great resources around for newbies (o:

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