A Word Every Sixth of a Second

Joynell Schultz is in the midst of a project I would never advise any writer — cranking out a novel of forty thousand words (some figures just need to be expressed in letters rather than numbers) in four days. She reached her first day’s goal after five hours of writing, and is eager to continue her effort tomorrow.

Ten thousand words in five hours. A couple grand each hour. That’s over 33 words a minute.

While in graduate school a few decades ago, I earned some decent wages (for a starving student, that is) working for temporary staffing agencies. My strongest proficiency was in typing — I could bang out 80 words a minute, with good accuracy. But that was typing, my friends; I was just reading hand-written copy and making my fingers follow the lead of my eyes. Joynell isn’t typing, she’s writing, composing instead of transcribing, creating rather than copying.

When I’m in the midst of a NaNoWriMo challenge, I produce 300 words an hour on average, maybe five or six hundred if everything’s going right. Two thousand an hour… for five consecutive hours? Not a chance. My creative energy simply cannot sustain that pace.

Joynell, however, has accomplished that task today, so who am I to doubt her ability. I wish her continued success on her journey, as well as a long bath and a bottle of wine when she’s finished.

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