Writing at Light Speed: Chris Fox 5000 Words Per Hour Experience

Yes, I’m still proceeding with the Grand Chris Fox Experiment, although it’s morphed from researching a market to writing now.

I’m pleased to say that I’m three quarters of the way through the first draft of The Night Lily, that’s around 48,000 words of what I expect to be a 70-80K novel once finished.

The aim is to have the first draft done by the end of September, complete the second by the end of October, ready for my trusty beta readers to read in November. I’m aiming at a mid-January 2017 launch.

Apparently, launching in December is not good for the US market… Ho hum.writing5000words-perhour

Or should that be ho ho ho?

Writing At Light Speed

Throughout the process of writing The Night Lily, I’ve been using the method outlined in another of Chris Fox’s books, 5000 Words Per Hour. (Click on the image to read more about the book. It will take you to Amazon.com).

Fox’s method involves a training method to get you up to speed, spreadsheets for tracking your progress and the suggestion of a Pomodoro timer for writing sprints.

He also recommends using Dragon Naturally Speaking or other voice dictation software to help you write faster.

I’ll make a comment on my speech dictation experience right here and now.

Quite frankly, it sucked.

No only does speech-recognition software not cope well with an Australian accent, when you’re writing fantasy fiction, you tend to have a lot of made up words.

So for me, words like Taqi (the main character’s name) and Jhiriyah (the name of the empire in The Night Lily) don’t play nicely with speech software.

Then there is the self-consciousness/flow of words factor.

Maybe some writers can rattle off quality prose when using speech recognition software.

I am not one of those writers.

Dictating my words completely screws up my flow and blocks my muse…and if there’s anyone in the house save the dogs, then I’m completely self-conscious.

So much so, that I simply can’t ‘write’.

Yes, I did give the speech dictation a go – this is where the experiences above come from.

And I decided that it wasn’t for me.

This probably means I’ll never crack 5000 words per hour. 

Am I worried?

NOPE… and and the next section, I’ll explain why.

Sprinting for My Life!

Using the methods outlined in Chris Fox’s book  I’ve hit 2000 words per hour (WPH) just typing.

Admittedly, I don’t hit that all the time. I seem to average about 1600-1800 WPH.

I know this because I’ve been tracking my progress using the spreadsheet you Chris Fox kindly allows you to download through a link in the book.

I set the little Pomodoro app on my Mac for 25 minutes, turn off the wifi/internet and open Scrivener (the program I write in).

Then I just go for it.

Rinse and repeat.

Until my chapter is done.

In this way, I have been able to finish a draft chapter a day of The Night Lily – an astounding achievement for me, a perfectionist who will dwell upon a sentence for three hours.

Getting this far in such a short time has been a complete eye-opener for me.

As I write in under another pen name, have writing and promotion of our outback Australia travel website to do, and book promotion to do as well, drafting a chapter a day of an 80K novel leaves me feeling supremely satisfied.

The Question of Quality

Of course, lots of people will ask: “Yeah, sure. It’s all very well to write fast like that, but what’s your writing like? I bet it’s utter crap?”

I have to admit, this was a huge fear of mine, too.

Yes, I was terrified that I would simply write rubbish that would require massive re-writing.

So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

The writing is serviceable and in some places, is close to second draft quality. Other places it requires editing, better characterisation and ‘deep setting’, but as I’ve GOT something to work from, I’m already way ahead of how I usually plod along and write.

So whilst what I’ve written as a draft isn’t my published-quality writing, it is the skeleton on which I’ve hung some flesh and sinew.

The second draft is where I’ll hang the skin, hair and clothing.

Of course there is a secret to me being able to think about doing something like this, and that’s having all 206 bones in place before I start.

I’ll save that discussion for another post, though, as it’s another writing adventure altogether.

Reflections

The method, on the whole, has been a rollicking success for me.

I’ve got so much written…far, far more than I ever would have imagined.

Yes, there has been some trade off in quality, but as I’ll be doing a second draft -and I would normally do this ad infinitum- I’m not all that worried about it.

As I’m not actually trying to write 5000K per hour, I can say that about 4000 words in a day has been my biggest achievement.

I haven’t seen meteoric rises in the amount of words I’ve been able to write, just a slow, steady increase.

However, underpinning this great leap in productivity is the fact that I’ve done my homework and got my bones all laid out on the anatomist’s table.

And that’s a whole other blog post!

  • 09/09/2016

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