Writing Stats

Way back in April, Jay Lake posted some numbers that revealed he’d spent about 36% of his time on his first draft and 43% of his time revising.

And I thought, wow, only 40% revision! How nice! I assumed my percentage was higher, but never got around to doing the math.

Then recently, I found this other blog post on the three phases of writing that said “Writing is 85% prewriting, 1% writing, and 14% rewriting.” I read that and thought, that can’t be right. Where’s your data?

Well, I have data. I’ve been tracking my writing time for about two years. And it turns out…only a third of my time has been spent on the miserable part (revising). Since mid-2010ish, I’ve spent about 19% of my time planning, 48% writing, and 32% revising. I guess I should stop complaining. Revising must feel like it takes 90% of my time because I hate it so much.

It’ll be interesting to look back at these numbers in a few years and see what my longer-term average is, since the numbers have been in a wide range. In 2011, for example, only 9.6% of my time was on planning, and so far in 2012, only 22% of my time has been writing (a percentage that is about to increase drastically, since I’m now writing the book I spent the beginning of the year planning).

I don’t have numbers for a full book start-to-finish (I started tracking halfway through my last book). But stay tuned next week when I’ll run the numbers on individual short stories. (Preview: Length of story? Not so important.)

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