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  • tajfregene

What my data shows about my writing speed.

Picture of a binary data stream
The data is revealing

I thought that I was a slow writer.

I thought this because I first had the idea for All of our Tomorrows back in the winter of 2014-15 and the book is still not finished. Four years is a hell of a long time, and some of my friends can’t believe that I’ve stuck at the same project for so long. To some extent, I agree. If you’d told me before I started that it would take me this long, it would really have put me off.

I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan and I know that George RR Martin kops a hell of a lot of heat for writing so slowly. Now, after writing my own story I have so much sympathy for him. Admittedly, he's been working on Winds of Winter for longer than I've been writing, but then again, my book will probably end up about a third of the length of his. I concluded that I’m just a slow writer and that’s just the way it is.

And then I looked at my stats.

As a brief aside, I’m a self-confessed data-geek. As an extra to my day job, I run our department’s journal club about anaesthetic research (if you really want to geek-out have a look at JournalBlog, my other website). As a data-geek, I’ve kept a spreadsheet of how frequently I write and how many words I write each day. The data is revealing. It tells me that I am not as slow a writer as I believe.

Like I said, I’ve been writing this story for over four years, but If I take my writing days only i.e. the days that I sat down and wrote anything at all, then I have written my book in 334 days so far. That means that if I’d written every day, then I would have got to where I am in under a year, which is a good speed of progress for any professional novelist.

Writing a book is hard, I know that now. There are so many things that can derail your project and leave you with yet another “Great Unfinished Novel.” I spend a fair bit of time talking with other writers both online and in real life. I think that the problems that I face are different from those that a lot of other writers have. My biggest challenge has not been coming up with ideas, or writers’ block, or procrastination, or self-doubt. No, my biggest problem has always been carving out time in my week to sit down and write. My data shows that when I’m able to do that, I’m actually quite productive.

On that note, I’m going to say goodbye for now and try to get a couple more hundred words of my novel down while I have a chance.

Take care,



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