Thursday, May 16, 2013

The 200,000 Word Question

This week I began taking stock of my word-count for 2013.  As with all of my writing, and because of my weekly, monthly, and yearly deadlines . . . I continually have to tally the total number of words I must write, divide by the days I have remaining, and this gives me the total I must write each day.  

In this manner, writing is far more of a mathematical equation than a creative one.  I already know what I'm going to write (usually) . . . I just have to calculate how I will do it, and when . . . and consequently, how early I must rise to begin or how late I must continue working in order to accomplish the goal.

Simple.  I can still add, subtract, divide and multiply.  And I thank my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Allison, for drilling all of those factors in to my thick skull through hours and hours of flash card memorization.  (Incidentally, what's 12X12 and 11X11?  If you know the answers immediately, you used flash cards and probably lost recess time if you didn't know your tables!) 

Adding all of my writing thus far in 2013, I note that I am fast approaching 200,000 words of "finished" product.

Dividing this by 135 days, I note that I am writing nearly 1,500 words a day.  (Okay, not bad.)

Dividing these words by an hourly-dollar rate based on national averages and the hours it takes me to produce the product, I see that I am earning about 1.1 cents-per-word.  

Lord, that's depressing . . . especially as I've always contended that I could make more by moonlighting at Dunkin' Donuts or tossing burgers at McDonalds on a per-hour basis.  

And that's my final message to all the writers out there . . . you can't do this for the money.  There ain't any!  

You've got to be willing to subject yourself to living in a deep depression with very little sleep, a willingness to field questions from your wife like, "Why are you wasting your time?", an ability to live on coffee for days with no other sustenance besides black licorice, and the torture of knowing, through it all, that you've still got deadlines to meet and somebody out there is depending upon you to deliver a full-fledged manuscript (free of errors) by next Friday.

What are you waiting for?  

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