Not many people understand just how much time I’ve put into writing my book or other projects like marketing the book and creating this website. Because to them the projects transition from non-existence to reality in the span of a single conversation, the general impression is that I simply threw it together and it therefore must be utter crap. Either that or the book magically appeared for me one day while I was playing video games. So here I thought I’d take the opportunity to put together a breakdown of the approximate time I’ve been devoting to my first project up to this point.
Drafts one and two:
These were the hardest drafts, the ones where I was really building the story. Each took about six weeks to complete at 70 to 80 hours a week. I did take the occasional day off but usually spent between 12 and 14 hours a day, every day, on writing. Occasionally more, rarely less. There were even a few 2-3 week stretches where I didn’t take off any days at all. Adding all that up, that totals around 900 hours and breaking it down into regular work weeks equals a little over twenty-two. The fact that I did it in twelve meant I was extremely busy. You know, despite being unemployed.
The hardest work, the major rewriting and plot revisions, was complete. Now all that was left was tweaking and polish. Here I went over each line, looking for ways I could better say what I wanted to say, finding sentences I could shorten or cut out, tuning the dialogue to be sure it had the proper punch and hunting for spelling mistakes.
This draft took me a little under five weeks at a more leisurely pace of 60-70 hours a week. Since the hardest work was done I was allowing myself more time to do other things. Averaging it out, that’s around 300 hours.
A similar process to the third draft but spread over a greater length of time. I started the fourth draft while still unemployed but I had to take a break from writing for a few months when I did find a new job as I found the learning process consumed so much of my mental energies that I had nothing left at the end of the day. I tried writing a little during this period and simply couldn’t do it. Besides, I was also waiting on some preliminary feedback from friends and family. Once I’d settled in at my job and gotten comfortable there, I arranged to take Fridays off to devote more time to writing. This one’s the hardest to estimate because of the break but I probably finished off draft four in about 200 hours.
Short and Sweet. Nothing much to do but provide some final polish. I also found the need to replace all my single quotes around dialogue with double quotes. For some reason I didn’t realize that double quotes was the North American Standard. I must have read a lot of English books or something because single seemed normal to me. I don’t think I spent more than 50 hours on this last draft, spread over the course of a couple weeks.
Adding up all the above equals about 1500 hours, give or take maybe five percent. On top of that I have spent dozens upon dozens of hours drafting and redrafting my query letters and synopsises, as well as about 200 hours building my website. I couldn’t even guess how much time I spent on researching agents, personalizing my query letters, printing them off, stuffing envelopes and taking it all to the post office to be mailed away. All told, it’s got to be around 1800 hours so far which works out to over eleven months worth of regular 40 hour work weeks. I believe that falls into the category of “freaking lots”. It’s not all 100% productivity time of course, as there are smoke breaks or meal breaks or whatnot, but in percentage terms it’s higher than any day job I’ve ever done.