Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Misleading Nature of Numbers

Last year, about this time, I crossed the one million word mark for words. It’s a number I’m pretty proud of because it’s concrete. But let’s face it, numbers can be misleading.

There’s this 10,000 hour rule. Specifically, there was a study that said you need 10,000 hours of experience in something before you’re an expert at something.

I’m not gonna lie, but when I heard the 10,000 hour rule, I sort of assumed I already had that down. Just the amount of time it takes to type a million words seemed, off the top of my head, to be enough to qualify. Which of course led me to the land of numbers.

I type at approximately 60 words per minute. I have written over a million words. This is easy math. If all of those words flowed out just as fast as I could write them, then I spent ~17,000 minutes typing.

I admit, that’s not nearly as long as I thought it would be. It seems like it should have been MUCH longer. But, these are numbers, so I followed them down the rabbit hole.

17,000 minutes is just under 300 hours.

Not even a thousand hours of typing went into my books.

So yeah, with NaNo approaching, and me feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the working and what not, I think that’s a bit of an eye opener. In fact, if we knew exactly how the story went and were just taking dictation, a book could be written in just fourteen hours of typing.


I mean no novel to NOVEL in one really long day of typing?? CRAZY.

So yeah, as you’re sitting around thinking about the monumental task of going all NaNo, just remember, it’s really only something like two regular work days worth of typing to log a Novel. No big.*

And for the record, I’m not saying it’s easy, but you know, those numbers should make the task seem doable. Also, if you’re one of those people who actually write at your top typing speed, you could make the NaNo deadline by typing just thirty minutes a day for a month. How awesome is that?

If you weren’t able to put it together, I’m thinking about NaNoing this year… I haven’t decided yet. There are some other factors to look into, but I’m trying to psych myself up for it (can you tell?).

*And by No Big, I mean bigBIGdeal. Writing a novel is really hard, these numbers are really for word vomit, but I sometimes think it’s good to look at numbers to see what they can tell us. Novels are like marathons. Still, I was totally shocked at how little time is invested into the actual typing of words.


  1. Well, when you put it like that- I'm ready to go! Though not planning to do the NaNo thing. I always fail. I'm just not good at keeping my butt in the seat for long. Congrats on your million word mark!

  2. Yeah, but you left out all the editing, and when you get sucked into a scene and spend 4 hours on 500 words, or when you go through an intense edit and utilize 5 hours on a single chapter... I think you're selling yourself short there. ;)

    I'm going to NaNo. Don't care if I make the word count, but I need to the motivation. Too many deadlines...

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

  3. My first story, which I'm still working on, is close to 160K words, but I've spent so much time rewriting those words during revisions, I think I've hit over 300K words, at least. I've always wondered if the revision part of writing counts toward those 10,000 hours.

  4. I type really fast too, but I think all the time that goes into a book *before* you start writing it is just as important. I can't write anything worth reading if I don't know what's happening first, so all the time I spend agonizing over plots and characters? It better count. O_o


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