THE OTHER NETWORK WRITER'S ROOM

INSIDE THE ART, CRAFT AND BUSINESS OF WRITING for Film, TV, Books, Stage, Print or Digital Media (with Particular Attention to Comedy)

“Let Me Count the Words…” (How to Measure ‘Average’ Writing Output)

I believe in measuring output – at least during a drafting phase of your project. By measuring your productivity, you…

  • Boost your confidence about your ability to generate pages
  • Psychologically reinforce the idea that you’re a writer
  • Accumulate pages, which you will ultimately need for a book or script.

Unfortunately, you also…

  • Reinforce the idea that producing pages is the goal, when actually your goal is to produce the right pages

So what is ‘normal’ output?

According to literary legend, one evening a friend visited the notoriously slow writer James Joyce, and asked how his writing went that day.

“I wrote 10 words”, says Joyce. The friend, trying to be encouraging, congratulates him on his productivity.

“Yes,” says Joyce, “but only 5 of them were good.”

Here are some more realistic goals for drafting:

  • 10+ pages in a day is stupendous output
  • 5 pages a day is impressive (especially if its consistent)
  • 3 pages a day is solid (especially if you work several days in a week)
  • 1 page a day will get you there (eventually)
  • One chapter a week is good measurable progress. If you’re writing a book, you probably don’t have more than 13 chapters, which means you can produce a rough draft in 3 months.
  • One scene per day is good. Two is better.
  • It’s rare to produce more than 30 pages of a script in a week unless you’re under a hard deadline.

Consider these self-reported average productivity levels of successful writers:

  • 2000 words (10 pages) a day—Nicholas Sparks
  • 1000 words (5 pages) a day—JG Ballard
  • 600 words (3 pages) a day—Arthur Hailey
  • 75 words (half a page) a day—Gustave Flaubert
  • Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”) says he can write 20 pages a day of a rough draft screenplay—but then spends a year rewriting. “Little Miss Sunshine” was also written in a couple of weeks but rewritten many times over several years after that.
  • Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”) says he can write 20 pages a day of a rough draft screenplay—but then spends a year rewriting. “Little Miss Sunshine” was also written in a couple of weeks but rewritten many times over several years after that.

Talk to Greg about strategies and tactics for increasing your productive output. Email or call 323-717-4731 to talk to him directly.

 

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This entry was posted on October 12, 2014 by in Productivity and tagged , .
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