The TIME in Full-Time Writing

One thing I’ve studied while in Switzerland is how productive I am with my time. I’m sure there are programs more capable of measuring this, but I’ve kept a steady eye on my progress in novels, on blogs, etc. I wanted to know just how big of a difference it would make to be writing full time vs. part time. Here’s a look at that break down:

7 months of Full Time Writing:

While here, I’ve written about 135,000 words in the Babel series (being published). I wrote a stand alone novel entitled Wicked Quick, right around 60,000 words. Earlier on, I worked through the middle sections of two other novel ideas (40,000 words split between the two of them). On random other projects, I accounted for about 15,000 words. I also wrote 36 blog posts… if the average post is 750 words (relatively tame estimate), then that comes out to 27,000 words. I’ve also spent the last month working on a brand new project, on which I’m about 25,000 words deep.

TOTAL WORD COUNT – 306,000 words

(As I write YA, this is roughly the equivalent of 4 full length novels)

What’s not accounted for in that total?

A full edit of my novel based on agent feedback and comments. I also had to write endless emails, blurbs, and synopses for prospective agents and editors.

So. I’ve been productive… but more or less productive?


7 months of Part Time Writing

I was a teacher. In North Carolina, that means an early start. In the classroom by 6:50, and kids in my room by 7:25. I finished my work day, however, at 3:00pm. A lot of teachers will spend an hour or two tying up loose ends. I had to do this occasionally, but most of the time I absolutely dogged it during my planning periods. This afforded me time in the afternoon to write.

So from 3pm-5pm I would write. Occasionally, I’d add to this late at nights or on weekends (if, for instance, my wife wanted to have some Separate But Together time).

On average, I’d guess that I wrote for about 20-25 hours each week. In Switzerland, I’d put that closer to 40 hours (I don’t take any time to write on weekends now).

So… how did I do in the seven months before going full time?

In November, I wrote When in Fancy, a MG novel that’s about 70,000 words long. I followed that in January with Koth’s Anatomy, a novella that’s right around 40,000. February consisted of a little dabbling in other novels (15,000 words added across three different novels). Then we arrived in March-April, the two months it took me to finish up my work on The Black Hole of Broken Things, which was 80,000 words long on first attempt.

In total, I wrote 205,000 words.

What doesn’t this account for?

I also did a major re-write for an old novel that consumed a lot of time. Nor does this statistic account for the major work that went into writing queries, researching agents, and dealing with all the emails I started sending out before leaving for Switzerland.

So… What’s the conclusion?

If I’m getting 20 hours a week across 7 months, that’s around 560 hours. Divide up my 205,000 words by that number and I’m averaging 366 words per hour.

If I’m getting 40 hours a week across 7 months, that’s around 1120 hours. Divide up my 306,000 words by that number and I’m averaging 273 words per hour.

Clearly, I’m fitting more work into less time when I worked as a part time writer. This fits a lot of old theories and ideas about working expanding or contracting to the given time constraints. The conclusion would seem to be: go get a job? But! But! But! The only thing that doesn’t line up with that logical conclusion is the idea that I’ve not entered the busy season of writing yet. My book hasn’t published. I have no fan mail. I am not writing guest blog posts by the bucketful. I am not someone who’s being brought in for conferences or to speak on panels or to visit classrooms.


So it’s very likely that “full-time writing” is not the most productive state for me… but it will eventually and likely be the position I need to hold in order to fulfill all of the extracurricular responsibilities that come with writing, and continue to pump out words at the rate I’m currently going.

Either way, it was very interesting to run back through these stats and figure out just how much I’m taking advantage (or not taking advantage) of my time. I’m awaiting a graph of this information by Patrick Reintgen. He does math things.

(Before anyone casts an eye at my full time writing stats and thinks, “Well, clearly you’re less productive now…” Do know that either of those word count totals in a 7 month time frame are very welcome, healthy totals for an author! Just a little side note)



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