Monday, October 7, 2013

Time Well Spent


From Kate's Writing Crate…

Last week, I wrote a post only 463 words long. According to Word Properties, I spent 172 minutes writing and editing it. Looks like I wrote about 2.7 words a minute. That would be embarrassing if I actually wrote at that rate.

The reality is I wrote the post in 78 minutes. The word count was 528. But I revised as I wrote so I probably wrote 700+ words and then edited and revised down to the 528 by the time I finished. This took about 45% of my total time on this piece.
It's hard to get an exact breakdown of writing versus rewriting as I write until my thoughts stop. Sometimes I lean back in my chair and stare at the ceiling while thinking. Sometimes I stare out the window. Then I reread what I wrote, rewriting as I work down to where I left off and then I'd start writing again. I don't know how to quantify the writing versus rereading and rewriting, but I'd guess about 15 of the 78 minutes was reading and rewriting.
It's more interesting to me that I then spent another 94 minutes over the next two days to create a finished post that was 65 words shorter through rewriting, editing, and polishing my work.
The final post was worth working the extra 94 minutes. My first draft had every idea I wanted to include. It wasn't in terrible shape, but it wasn't ready for publication. Waiting for a day or two gave me a better perspective on what worked and what did not. I could cut sentences and paragraphs out more easily, expand on others, and add new ones as well as change the title.
If asked, I would have guessed writing versus rewriting a post was about a 50/50 proposition. But I have been tracking myself with Word Properties while writing the last three posts and discovered writing runs between 35-40% of my time and rewriting, editing, and polishing 60-65%.
This proved to me that:
Writing is really rewriting—making the story [or, in this case, post] better, clearer, truer. –Robert Lipsyte
If you haven't revised, you're not finished. –Patricia T. O'Connor
Being a writer is not just writing, but honing our thoughts and words, refining them. Writers write—and then they rewrite.
How much time do you spend rewriting?

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