Number Cruncher: Writing Stats


So I’m a bit of a geek right (warning  – understatement) and as such as I like everything to be quantifiable and to fit into nice patterns.  If I have to make decision about something, like which hotel to stay at on holiday I will create a spreadsheet listing all the alternatives and then fill in things like price, sea view, average customer rating, distance from restaurants.  I might even go a bit further and start compiling these different factors to give each option a score.  Yes I do that sort of thing.

I’ve been doing the same for writing my novel and since I’ve built up a fair old bit of data now, thought it was about time I shared some of it.  I will now proceed to do so using the medium of charts.


Chart #1

This is a record of the number of words per chapter, mapped against my target words.  The x-axis represents chapters (split into three parts), the y-axis is word count.

The lower two lines (red and purple) aren’t that useful, they show the number of words per chapter against a target average of 3000 words a chapter (obviously this isn’t any form of constraint, it just tends to be the length my chapters come out at).  What is more interesting is the green and blue lines, this is the same information only accumulative so you can see the increasing total as I have progressed.  The rigid blue bar is my target and the green line crawling around it like ivy is the reality.

As you can see for the most part I’ve been coming out just below target but then midway through Part 2 my chapter lengths start going up and put me ahead of target.  I am now in the early chapters of Part 3 so obviously there is no data after that, hence the flat line.


Chart #2

The second piece of data that I’ve been recording (thanks to the Calendar System) is the number of days per week that I have done writing.  This doesn’t include research, thinking about the novel or any other sort of writing (such as short stories) – just writing (or editing) off The Novel.  The x-axis represents months split into weeks (not sure why not all the month names are appearing) and the y-axis is the number of days in each week that I made writing progress.

The most obvious things gleaned from this are that:

  • I have never managed to write 7 days a week
  • My output has slowed decreased
  • Christmas is a terrible time of year for productivity

The second dip to zero during June represented the break between Parts 2 and 3 where I stopped to re-evaluate how Part 3 would play out and do some further research – none of which gets recorded by my rules.


Here are some further facts:

  • I have been writing for: 10 months
  • I have written: 83,450 words
  • At this rate I will be finished in: 3 -4 months
  • I spend an average of 3 days per week writing
  • I write an average of 714 words per day (that I write)
  • Or an average of 271 words per day (including days I don’t write)

So there you go – hope you fellow number fans enjoyed that.  I’ll add the obvious disclaimers that “finished” means “finished the first draft” and that at the end of the day it’s all about “quality not quantity”.

Anyone else been up the anything similar?  I’d love see anyone else’s data (ooh err).

Title image courtesy ansik

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Published in: on July 1, 2010 at 8:55 PM  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Charts, how I love charts!

    I am not quite so organized, but here are a few stats.
    Started novel WIP: November 2009
    Total words: 97,936 at present (+ 46,647 that I cut)
    Roughly: 22,000 words left to write (or 18%)
    Writing pace: 5 days a week, I do ~1000k per day, but when I factor in non writing days it averages closer to 600ish.
    My writing pace has gotten steadier over the months.
    Average chapter length: 4500

    I hope to be finished the first draft by the end of July, but it will be nowhere near ready for human consumption. 🙂 I expect editing to take much longer. It’s in rough shape. I think mine skews towards quantity over quality right now. yikes.

    • That’s pretty impressive progress, something for me to aim for – thanks for sharing!


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