About two weeks ago, I accidentally spent ten hours revising a novel. I don’t quite know how it happened. I certainly didn’t intend to do it. I just got really zoned in and, before I knew it, five hours had passed. Then the same thing happened again in the evening!
What made this interesting for me is that it happened on a Monday, which is the same day that I was teaching my class and taking Spanish. For the whole year, I’d pretty much assumed that three hours was about as much as I could manage on a Monday (and I often didn’t manage even those three). And now here I was with proof that if I wanted to, I could allocate ten hours!
Of course, it did come with some costs. I wasn’t able to do any of my other work on that day. Nor was I able to undertake the 2-4 hours of reading that I like to do every day. But still, ten hours of writing! That’s really productive. That’s almost as much as what I average in an entire week.
For years, I’ve assumed that I was writing about as much as it was possible to write. It’s no secret that writers–even professional ones–are often fairly unproductive. There are tons of famous writers who only wrote for three hours in the morning and then just puttered about for the rest of the day. There are plenty of countervailing examples, of course, but three hours of writing per day remains a very respectable sum and that is generally what I aimed for.
I have to say, though, that I am suspicious of anyone who says that they write three hours a day. To me, that sounds like on some days they write three hours and on some days they write nothing (or very little), which means that their average is probably more like 1.5 hours. And that’s pretty much where mine is. Ever since I started taking statistics on my writing, I’ve averaged about 90-100 minutes of writing a day.
I generally cap out at around 4 hours. In the last year and a half, I’ve only had 7 days where I wrote for between 4-8 hours and 2 days where I wrote for more than 8 hours. That’s what keeps my average writing time low. In order to have an average of three hours a day, every 5 minute day would need to be balanced by a six hour day and I simply don’t have very many of the latter
But the ten hour day unlocks whole new potentialities. If I can just clear one day a week and make it an eight or more hour writing day, then my overall productivity will double.
So…that’s what I’m going to do. Today I put the plan into motion and had my very first pre-planned eight-hour writing day. It was excellent and extremely productive. I did eight hours of writing and still had enough time for a nap and a walk.