Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The Day's Progress

A decent day's work. My goal is at least 3K a day, and ideally something closer to four or five would be preferred. Today I did a bit over 3300, which is heading in the right direction.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
14,095 / 90,000

Today's sample comes from shortly after the first meeting of the two protagonists, Bannerman Yao and Captain Zhuan. The one is in command of the strike team, the other in command of the boat that's getting them there. In this scene, they've been reviewing the military records of the seven men picked for the mission.
“By my count, we have three murderers, a thief, a dealer in contraband, an insubordinate, and a conscientious objector.”

Yao looked up at the sailor, who sat back on the bench, his arms crossed over his chest.

“Failing to take us into account,” the bannerman answered. There was no file in the stack for the sailor sitting before him, and Yao found himself curious as to the reasons for Zhuan’s imprisonment. Yao had spent time with sailors before, and this Zhuan’s manner struck him as different than that typical of those who served in the Interplanetary Fleet. There was something lax in his attitude, Yao felt. Zhuan had the softness that came with long years spent in microgravity, but it seemed that the softness extended to his character, as well as his appearance.

“Indeed,” Zhuan said, guardedly. He paused for a moment before continuing. “I’ve served with the thief, Ang Xunhuo. Thief and gambler, to be precise. But he is also the finest pilot with whom I’ve ever served, and I have no doubts about his abilities to perform his duties, if his vices can be kept in check.” He glanced at the files spread on the table. “I’m a poor judge of a soldier’s worth, though. What is your opinion of the rest?”

Yao’s shoulders raised in the shadow of a shrug. “Their records speak for themselves. The three bannermen, at least, have skills that should prove useful, though each is markedly lacking in discipline. Syuxtun’s skills with language and communication should prove a valuable asset, as should Fukuda’s expertise with demolitions. And if Dea’s marksmanship scores are to be believed, I would not want to find myself on the business end of his firearm. As for the guardsmen...” Yao waved a hand at the other three files, those for Cai, Nguyen, and Paik. “They may simply by the class of men allowed entry into the Green Standard Army these days, for all I know. This war has taxed the resources of the Middle Kingdom, but even so...”

Zhuan gave a slight smile. “So the old rivalries persist?” He raised an eyebrow, in an expression Yao felt verged dangerously close to mocking. “Sailors don’t trust guardsmen who don’t trust bannermen who don’t trust anyone, is that it?”

Yao controlled his reaction, and drew his lips into a tight line. “I do my duty, and judge others by their ability and willingness to do the same.”

3,000-5,000 words a day? Yikes! That's a good weekend day for me. On a weekday, I would have to have the stars align to do that much (that would be because I have about 1 hour to write on most weekdays).

Did you have to build up to that amount, or have you always been able to dish out that many words?
Well, I have the advantage of being able to write full time for a month or so at a time, in between my other responsibilities, which helps. My schedule these days is administrivia during the morning hours (including a bit of exercise), and then writing from noonish to about four in the afternoon. I can usually get three to five thousand words a day done in those four hours, averaging about four thousand. But to answer your question, yes, I did indeed have to build up to that amount. My experience is closely mirrored by Jay Lake, who describes his process better than I could my own over here. On a bumpersticker, Jay thinks of training for writing just like one would a sport or martial art, always pushing to do a little more, and then a little more after that, to stretch and flex and train those muscles. In this case, the muscle is your brain, but the principle is the same. Worth trying, if you haven't already.
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