Only Six Minutes

Shonna Slayton — 

I’m definitely in the write-slow camp. I credit it to all the years I spent as an editor. I can’t keep my hands from changing a sentence, a word, a punctuation mark. If I reread it, I’ll fix change it. This slows me down.


Write fast theory: just get the words on paper, don’t think too much, definitely don’t edit, let the creativity flow.


Write slow theory: plan it out, outline, polish as you go, be more organized, spend less time cleaning it up at the end.


How would you classify a goal of writing 2,000 words a day? Is that fast or slow writing? Based on how I write, I’d call it fast writing. But if you were Nicolas Sparks, you might think differently….


One of my favorite writing blogs is The Writing Life (click here) by agent Terry Whalin. He knows a lot about the business of writing and always has a good tidbit or two. This week he discussed an interesting article on Nicolas Sparks from Entertainment Weekly, Oct 10th edition (click here). Considering our topic this week, the following quote caught my eye:


“A novel takes him a few months to conceive and then five months to write. He sets a daily goal for himself of 2,000 words. He writes for five to six hours a day and types approximately 60 words a minute, which he says leaves him with 54 minutes an hour to stare at the computer and six minutes to actually write.” –from article True Believer by Karen Valby.


Really, is that all it takes? Six minutes? Piece of cake. Except the trouble is those 54 minutes aren’t really just staring at the computer—they are researching, dreaming, analyzing, watering the plants, planning the character arc, following the Hero’s Journey, etc.


I’m not a full-time writer, but I should be able to log at least an hour (or is that six minutes) of actual writing time a day. At 60 words a minute x 6 minutes I should aim for 360 words a day, or, about a page and a half. That actually sounds doable for me, the slow writer. Especially if only six of those minutes are spent typing.


What do you all think? Is Sparks onto something here? Using Spark’s formula, how much can you get done in a day?

Shonna Slayton

Posts Twitter

Shonna Slayton is the author of the 1940's YA novel Cinderella's Dress (2014, Entangled Teen) and its sequel, Cinderella's Shoes (Fall 2015) . Visit her website at sign up for her newsletter.

One response to Only Six Minutes

  1. I’m in the ‘write slow’ camp with you. I’m doing Nanowrimo this year with the goal of creating a routine of writing each day. There’s no way I could get 5-6 hours a day of writing. I think I could manage 360 words an hour, though.