The Value of Knowing How Fast You Can Read or Write
I don’t have time to read. I don’t have time to write.
We’ve all heard the phrases before…and possibly even said it ourselves. We get it. We do. Every writer and reader has a busy life, because every person has a busy life. Finding time to write or read isn’t easy. You just do it.
Easier said than done, right? Right. Which is why I want to share a small tip that worked for me in the early stages of my writing career. I’ve shared this with fellow writers before, so I know it works for some, but I must warn you that it has also discouraged others, so keep this one important fact in mind: It’s not about how fast you are. It’s not about comparing your speeds to anyone else’s. It’s about being aware of yourself, and using your awareness to manage yourself better.
My tip? Figure out how fast you read and write. (Remember, quality is key. This is not a race.)
What do I mean by that?
When you’re writing, take note of what time you start and your word count. When you’re done, take note of the time and how many words you get down. For reading, it’s very similar. Take note of where you started and when you started; then jot down how far you got and when you stopped. Do this a couple of times to get an average. Also, be aware of your nuances.
As an example, my major nuance is chapters. For both reading and writing, I cannot—for the life of me—stop in the middle of a chapter. So, for writing, I’m more likely to push myself longer just to finish that section, or if I feel myself getting tired, I might stop early to prevent myself from getting in the middle of a chapter. Now that I’m aware of my nuances, I can calculate speed. For two hours, I generally manage to write a chapter of 4,000-5,000 or so words and prep the next chapter, depending on where I’m at in those two hours. For reading, that’s about 200 or so pages, but this one is a little trickier since it is normally affected by the language or topic of the novel. That being said, that is my example.
Now, pay attention to yourself. Did you just spend three hours watching television? I know I did that the other day. I couldn’t write due to carpal tunnel syndrome, so my situation was a little different, but I watched Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, an entire episode of John Adams, and the finale of Silicon Valley. I spent over three hours watching TV. Three hours. I could’ve written a chapter, prepped a chapter, and read 100 pages in my current read. This is where knowing your speed helps you manage your time. You stop counting time like one hour and you start counting time in word counts and pages.
Managing your time starts with being aware of your time. I know we all have difficulties—so, trust me, this is not a post slamming anyone who can’t find time to write and read. In fact, I’ve had a difficult time for the past week to find time to write and read since I’ve been moving more furniture from city to city. But there are days—like my three-hour television days—that I think we all have. And those are okay too. We’re allowed to take a break. This is more for those who might be struggling with their free time. This post is designed to suggest a new way to approach their situation. If you pay attention and figuring out another way to count time, you’ll be less likely to say, “I just watched one TV show” and more likely to realize that was an entire chapter in your WIP.
Remember that one important fact though. It’s not about how fast you are. It’s not about comparing your speeds to anyone else’s. It’s about being aware of yourself, and using your awareness to your advantage. And be aware of everything else too.
What do I mean by “everything else”? I wrote this blog post while cooking lunch—because I’ve been behind on blog posts and figured my lunch break would be a good time to sneak that in—so I wrote while I cooked. Pasta to be exact. It worked. I finished a blog post in time…but don’t let the water boil over like I did. ;]
We’re so close!
As of yesterday, all three novels (YES, even Death Before Daylight) became available for pre-order