Monday, September 16, 2013

A few questions about productivity...

Hello folks! Mark here.

I spent the last three months "off" from the blog revising and re-writing book three of the Pevanese Mosaic: King's Gambit. Terri has it now, and while I wait to see her response I get to start up again here. Book four, and what I expect to be the final volume, is taking shape both on the page and in my head. I started a short, related project for HRB that also takes place in the Pevanese world. Those tasks, hopefully, will make for a productive fall and winter.

And speaking of productivity, that is my subject today. Since I sent the file for Path of the Poet-king off to Terri, I've been feeling on the edge of words almost all the time, but my productivity is almost nil. I know they are there, waiting for me. Vivid dreams that include heretofore unexplored territory, colors, whispered dialogue from as yet unnamed characters populate my waking and sleeping hours. I find such experiences fascinating yet perplexing.

You see, I have to start assigning and grading papers. My motivation is not the highest. Send coffee and a few red pens. Better yet, send me a nice quiet three day weekend with no lightning and storm clouds  How about a cup of concentration and a pile of active verbs? Anybody? Beuhler?

So, here I sit tantalizingly close to a bunch of real meaningful words, and I'm feeling less than productive. I'm not used to such paucity. When I composed Poets of Pevana, I averaged 1500-2000 words almost every session. When King's Gambit came together, I think I actually averaged a bit more. During the re-write for Path of the Poet-king, I think I had a number of 3000+ word days, especially during those bits that were new additions to the story. I was rocking the productivity and felt like an honest to goodness 'author'. Heady stuff. I know I'm on the edge of another all encompassing plunge into words and warrant. As big Bill had Hamlet say, "The readiness is all."

What is your barometer for writing, artistic success or productivity? Does the word count matter to you? Could you actually be satisfied with adding just one word? Do you find it easier to write for long swathes of time where just about every other portion of your body numbs down, goes to sleep or stiffens from lack of use? Or do you cram your search for words into those moments you manage to carve out of an otherwise over-busy schedule? Do you write better in the morning or during the quiet of the night? This summer, I recrafted Path of the Poet-king mostly during the early morning hours, sipping good coffee and hanging out with the cat and summer sunshine. I figured out that I needed to limit myself to three cups or I would get too jittery and balloon the typo ratio.

So, how do you define your own productivity?

Mark Nelson

9 comments:

Three With Eyes That See said...

(Terri, using "our" name because otherwise I get sent to spam.)

I wrote Finder in nine months, start to finish. A Time Never Lived? 18 months. The Shadows One Walks? I'll be surprised if it comes in less than two years. Why?

Because the brain has to split its time now. Writing time. Editing time. Promotion time (that seems to take up more and more of writing time!) But these are the steps I've taken in my writing life. I've broadened my scope, and thus, clipped into what used to be time spent on one task--writing.

I need time. I can't sit and write for an hour. I've barely hit my stride after an hour. I am working as a writer EVERY DAY--yes, even when GrandWilliam was here (I was editing a certain novel I recently got from a beloved author I know.) I am far more productive these days, overall. It's the writing that doesn't get as much time as it used to.

Karin Rita Gastreich said...

Geez, you guys are over the top productive! EOLYN took me 4+ years. HIGH MAGA two and a half. I'm shooting for two years for DAUGHTER OF AITHNE, but we'll see.

I measure productivity in quality, not quantity. I am constantly looping back to revise what I've written; solidifying plot threads in preparation for the next chapter, section, whatever. So word counts don't mean much too me.

In fact, on a really good day, my word count will go DOWN because I've tightened up a chapter or two.

I do report word counts on FB and so forth because so much internet traffic seems fixated on the numbers. But for me personally, they don't mean much. I'll take 500 well-written words any day over 50,000 words of garbage.

Actually putting words to paper is really the very final part of writing, so all that "mulling" time over coffee and quiet moments and long walks through the park, as well as our dreams and so forth, is probably the most productive part of crafting a story.

Diana Munoz Stewart said...

Wow, 3000 words a day seems super productive to me. I am never that consistent. Sometimes, I can sit down and words pour out, but other times it's fits and starts while spending too much time on FB. Actually, FB is the devil when it comes to be productive.

Three With Eyes That See said...

Karin--I really think I'm much closer to a clean draft when I finish a first draft these days. I, too, loop back and over the story as I'm writing that "first draft." I don't even write drafts any more. By the time I write the last words, the first half of the book is in more like a third draft. By the time I hand it over to a trusted set of eyes (ahem!) the early pages might have been revised upwards of five times.

Three With Eyes That See said...

Diana--agreed! FB is the devil, the succubus of writing!
(This is Terri, btw)

wendigomountain said...

I had a 6k day on Friday. Nothing to do. Supervisor out. Half the area underwater from flooding, so not a lot of calls. It felt great. I knew it was a good day to write when I was physically and mentally exhausted, but I couldn't stop until the words were down. So, I wrote a chapter in two days. Total of 7k words.

batgirl said...

I write in the mornings usually, and I'm doing well if I get 500 word. If I'm burning up the page I might get 1k.
The most I've ever done in a day - usually on the 3d day of the 3-Day Novel Contest - is 7k.

Three With Eyes That See said...

Woohoo! Yeah, Clint!

Three With Eyes That See said...

Barbara--seven K is a huge amount. Wow. I used to get 2000 words a day, now I'm happy if I get that a WEEK! Yikes.