How Long Does It Take to Write 1,000 Words?

time . . . creeps . . . slowly . . . alongThis week, for me, the answer is either 28 minutes, or 5 hours.

Earlier in the week I challenged myself to write 1,000 words as fast as I could type on each of my two mysteries. No pauses, no editing, don’t even think too much. Just type like mad.

I averaged 40wpm on each of them. Less than 30 minutes each to add another 1,000 words. While I only commit to 15 minutes of writing each day, I have a target of 1,000 words per novel.

One hour to do all the writing I needed to do for the day. Not bad.

Yesterday didn’t go so well.

I’ve set up a new computer in the downstairs office. Tired of lugging the laptop up and down, plugging and unplugging and all that. Simple to set up a computer these days. Most of my work is online. I use plenty of free tools. The computer went quite well.

But I want some music to listen to. I have my phone, packed with music, but I’ve got two huge (1TB) external hard drives upstairs. Why not copy the 70GB of music to the spare drive and bring it down?

This is what Resistance says to you when you’re a music nut and computer geek who’s supposed to be writing.

The USB hub I’m using has glitches. Or one of the drives does. Anyway, it took hours to delete things to make room. As I was fighting with that stuff I also copied the writing files from the desktop to my thumb drive so I could bring them downstairs.

Fuss fuss. Copy. Delete. Move. Copy. Delete. Restart. Up the stairs down the stairs up the stairs.

Finally gave up on getting the music drive done today and came down to write. Opened the thumb drive, and there was no file dated yesterday.

Went back upstairs to get it off the desktop and it was gone. Not surprising, since I’d deleted it.

But in order to clear space on the external drives, you can’t just delete the files. You have to empty Windows’ Recycle Bin. Which I had done.

So the desktop copy of the file was gone.

But there was no file on the thumb drive dated yesterday.

And it wasn’t in the writing folder on the external drive.

There was no file named with yesterday’s date anywhere.

Best Beloved was off hauling the Little One from one school to another school (she only goes out once a week, and sees two teachers at two different schools. I only share this to delay the rest of the story.) so since I was alone it wasn’t even worth crying since there was no one to pat my shoulder and say there there, you wrote it once you can write it again. Also, don’t say that. Not to a writer. They will wallop you.

Anyway, what I’d written yesterday was in the file dated for the day before. I’d saved it all under the old name, that’s all.

End result: no writing lost, but it took me 5 hours to write the 1,000 words on Into the Fog and right now I’m writing this instead of 1,000 words on A Long Hard Look.

Welcome to the twisted world of Resistance.

What do you find yourself doing instead of writing, even when that’s what you said you were going to do?

9 thoughts on “How Long Does It Take to Write 1,000 Words?

  1. I know that feeling of “It can’t be gone! It just can’t!” accompanied by the refusal to move on because I just know what I wrote was irreplaceable. What a relief to find the file after all.
    We can be so creative in our resistance. Note for future reference: anytime you change the routine, you lose a bit of the power of habit. Being intentional, paying close attention to your thoughts and being precise about starting and target times helps.
    AND, I question the math on 5 hours. Might be more precise to say you spent 4 and a half hours in resistance and maybe a half hour actually writing the 1,000 words? Not sure if that changes your perspective, but think about it.
    Finally, to answer the question about what I do: email is a familiar distraction. “I’ll just see if there’s anything I have to respond to right away…” can delay the start of Product Time. “Writing before email, writing before email” is my mantra.

  2. Re: the time — this was before I’d started writing, looking for the previous day’s words.

    Yeah, I know better than “just this one thing” before I start. Calling myself out like this reminds me of it.

    I’d like to explore the horror at losing 30 minutes’ work. Truly, those words weren’t brilliant, they were just some good solid words to move the story forward. I guess it’s not so much like clearing the dirt from a trench you dug yesterday, and a little more like having another child after the first one died. Somewhat more emotional investment.

    Ah, writers.

  3. Of course, having lost work before, I felt my chest clinch as I was reading this. (I have an excellent story of having one of my best early stories, a single copy typed up pre-computer, stolen along with all of my clothes and other goods while I was hitchhiking to my parents’ place. They were lifted by a guy who bought me and another hitchhiker lunch and then left out the back door of the restaurant with both of our belongings in his car. But it’s a long story.)

    I am particularly gifted as well in finding complex means to avoid writing, and they often involve tech odysseys like you describe. Only yours are worse.

    Anyway, glad your Valentine’s Day story had a good ending.

  4. I am better with technology, therefore, I can sabotage myself better.

    Garrison Kiellor’s briefcase was stolen from an airport bathroom. He had written the outline and some stories for the very best most important funniest concept he’d ever had.

    And that’s all he could remember.

    He says Lake Wobegone is a pale reflection of the masterpiece he lost.

    Most of us will never lose Thespis (most of us will never be G&S) but there’s a level of freakout non-writers will never get.

  5. I’m glad you didn’t lose your writings after all!

    When I say I’m going to write, sometimes I suddenly have something very important to do at my computer…
    Or I sit down at my desk, I look at what I have already written and I start criticizing my hand writing, and retracing some letters so they look better, which is a very useless thing to do.

    But most of the time, I end up writing for at least half an hour!

  6. I’ve gotten good at going through my ritual when I sit down at my desk. If I’m there, I do it.

    So my Resistance is all about keeping me from going downstairs to my writing desk, because if I get there, it’s gonna happen.

  7. Maybe you should have a slide, instead of stairs! It would be easier (and quicker) to go down there, whether Resistance likes it or not!

    Well, I gotta go do some writing now!

  8. Fire pole. If I stepped to the right 3 feet from where I’m sitting, turned 180 degrees, and dropped 6 feet, I’d be in the chair in my downstairs office.

    Fire pole. Slide right down into my chair.

    Bad idea at my age. But maybe when we buy a place outside town, I’ll work a slide into the remodel.

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