294 Words at a Time

Regular readers may be aware that a few weeks ago I submitted my work to the United Agents August Open House extravaganza fetival hullabaloo, wherein the absolutely huge agency ignored their usual policy and invited people to submit works in progress.

Suffice to say that excitement ensued, moreso when they pledged to reply to everyone that submitted, meaning that my humble little ramble would eventually end up on someone’s desk. It may have been the desk of the intern that makes tea for one of the junior readers’ assisstants of course. It may not even have been a desk, just an upturned mop bucket glued creatively to the wall of one of the cleaning cupboards to create an ad hoc flat surface. My work may not even have been placed on top of said improv bucketdesk but instead kind of put in a bin next to it. I don’t have any reason to suggest that United Agents were telling porky pies when they told me that absolutely everything would be read, but I do have an inkling of an idea how many works in progress there may be in the country and how long and how many people it might take to read all of them.

A lot. A lot is how many. Now while ‘a lot‘ may not be a particularly scientific measurement, I was not all together surprised when I received what is very obviously a generic rejection e-mail in response. Disheartened? Sure. Had I secretly believed that so blown away by my first three chapters would the tea maker to the junior reader’s assisstant be, that it would be put through the internal mail system from The Hudsucker to the boss’ desk and I would be rewarded the entirely fictitious and equally prestigious Davis Mann award for best intro ever and let into the secret club I’ve always suspected exists where they serve weird fruit smoothies that cure procrastination. Well, maybe a little.

Pictured; my work being sent upstairs, by Tim Robbins of course.

But, never mind. Rejection and more importantly responding to it positively is a huge part of this game, and always has been. So I set about finding some other industry types in whose general direction I could throw my work whilst wearing a waxy expression and consciosly trying to avoid looking desperate and sounding silly only to be told what I knew at the start of this little ramble, which is that no-one is interested in reading unfinished work.
So then, the question became how quickly could I get this bloody thing finished and move on to the next stage? To that end, I worked out how much I’ve got done in the last few weeks (5,000 words, give or take) and how much more I need to write to have a vaguely manuscript sized thing on my hands (25,000 words, give or take).

So, after trying to fit some numbers in my head, I realized that if I continue to average 294 words a day, which I have been for the last month or so, I can have the first draft completed in 85 days which, at the time of working it out, would take us to December the 8th.

So I guess, if there’s something to take away here, its take a sample of your writing speed over a few weeks and see what you realistically accomplish. Everyone knows that a deadline might be a headache, but it’s also a great motivator, so set yourself one and get into it!


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