UPDATE: On installing the WordCount plugin, it’s apparent my blog-based productivity estimates are, uhm, a bit off. Sadly, I found no readily available statistics plugin for MT. I think my overall thrust in this enry is still correct.

Generally speaking, my average blog entry is 1,200 words. Or so I think. That’s about an hour’s work. So in a week, I average about 8,400 words here.

Two weekday news runs for Cinescape also produce a similar number. They actually average a bit more, about 1,350 words each (broken into five stories), for a daily total of 2,700, and for a weekly average of 13,500.

My print and review work for Cinescape looks to be in the neighborhood of 5,250 words each month.

My estimated composition speed, very roughly, is 22 words per minute.

Therefore, I spend about:

  • 30 hours a month (an hour a day) on the blog
  • 40 hours a month (two hours each weekday) on online news for Cinescape
  • Four hours a month on other Cinescape material

Which means I work, on writing, about half of a full time job, about 72 hours a month (in reality, it’s a bit more: the print work takes time to research and rewrite, luxuries which the blog and online news items rarely are privileged to receive).

Based, with acknowledged inaccuracy, on my 22wpm composition speed metric, that’s about 95,000 words a month, less than a third of which gets into the blog.

Based on a rough copy-fitter’s method of word counting (count four lines on a page to determine average line length, then multiply by lines on a page and by pages to yield total word count – it’s usually within ten percent), Susan Orlean’s novel The Orchid Thief contains about 94,000 words.

I picked it simply as a representative book, curious at my output, my estimated productive capacity, and the amount of material that may be perceived as appropriate to a single published volume.

Sliced another way, were I to select a specific topic and cover it via blogging for three months, more or less, I would have the raw material to produce a single coherent volume. This interests me. I am aware I’m neglecting really significant aspects of the labor. My blog readers are probably very nearly wholly unaware of my interest and joy in carefully planned literary structuring, for example, or in my non-blog writing method (outline, draft, edit, rewrite, cut, rewrite, cut).

But my point, to myself, is that this labor might be trained and put to use with the long term goal of producing something more structured and with some possibility of also producing revenue.

Blogging daily as I’ve been doing is something wholly unexpected to me. In the past, each time I attempted to write on a regular basis, the writing would inevitably fade away after nearly no time at all. I have a nearly sixteen-page “journal” begun on the occasion of my family’s move to Switzerland for a year in 1982. It peters out after about a month.

Additionally, in the past, editorial personnel of various publications have repeatedly approached me with assignments. These assignments were nearly always in association with a specific event and I never viewed them as extraordinary or saw in them an indication that perhaps I should write or take my writing seriously or think of it as a possible source of income or even for god’s sake take more than the absolute graduating minimum in English while in college.

A hallmark of my maturity, I flatter myself, is the eagerness with which I adopt each passing evidentiary display of my own fallibility. I clasp them to my chest, joyously crying out, “I was wrong! My certainties were erroneous!”

While I still don’t completely grasp the psychological significance of this and am far from abandoning my native absurd sense of certainty about many things, I think maybe my dismissal of writing was an error. If I adopt this view, it’s entirely in character for me to begin thinking about how to turn this from tool and practice into more.

690 words. Seems longer. Hm. Maybe I need to recalculate.

3 thoughts on “Running numbers, rock and rolling

  1. For some reason, your last two entries are not showing up in the main body of the web log. They are in the side bar “recent entries”, but not in the main area.

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