Let’s set the bar too high

I was fooling around with numbers yesterday, and noticed the following things about November, National Novel Writing Month:

November has 30 days.
30 days is 720 hours.
If one didn’t sleep, that’s a LOT of time to work on novels.
IF one could use modafinil continuously without dying or anything for a month… wow.
Taking 200mg every 7 hours (to avoid that lull during the 8th hour), one would need about 103 200mg pills to cover the full month.
100 200mg doses of modafinil is only about $120. I paid that much for coffee during the month of November last year.

On the many occassions when I have been able to write continuously for 8 hours or more, I have averaged nearly 1000 words per hour. This includes appropriate eating, drinking, and bathroom breaks, plus time for daydreaming and brainstorming and (usually, because these sessions have typically occurred in coffee houses) a fair amount of chit-chat with baristas and other patrons. So 1000 words per hour that I am not trying to do anything else is reasonable, and allows me to not starve to death.

If I didn’t have any other responsibilities, didn’t have a job, didn’t go to church or the movies or shopping, in 720 hours I could reasonably expect to write something approaching 700,000 words. Perhaps as little as 650,000 words, but that would still represent fully double the number of words contained in my four completed novels. If I wrote novels between 50k and 65k words in length, that would allow for ten to twelve or even fourteen full novels. In a month. Ridiculous!

Of course, to pay for utilities and food and modafinil and all that fun stuff, I have to have a job. So, I figured out how much time a job takes up:

I’ll be scheduled to work about 180 hours in November.
Add about 18 hours for lunches (though going to half-hour lunches would not be unreasonable, and would drop that to 9 – right now I spend about 10 minutes eating and 45 minutes napping), and about 27 hours driving back and forth to work, and that’s roughly 225 hours of the month eaten by work.

Leaving roughly 500 hours to work on writing!

So even if I don’t take any ‘vacation’ time to work on writing (I’m sure I could take 40 or 50 or more hours – November is a slow month around here), I could write perhaps up to 500,000 words. Considering I’m quite intentionally holding the length of each book in the Untrue Tales series at around 50k words each, it is not an unreasonable goal to try to finish the entire dodecology in one fell swoop. Then, when I have to work around the clock in 2006 just to scrape by, barely making ends meet financially, and don’t have time to write, at least I’ll have a back-log of material already written.

But let’s not set a barely-reachable goal, let’s be reasonable. Let’s cut that reachable goal fully in half and aim to write 250,000 words in November. Even if I slept 8 hours a night, every night, that only takes about 240 hours away from the nearly 500 I had otherwise, leaving enough time to get 250,000 words done. So if I aim for 250k-300k words and to not sleep (or to sleep only every two or three or four days), I could reach my goal easily and still have time to watch movies and go to church and spend time with friends and all that other rubbish. And still get 5 or 6 books written.

See how writing 6 books in a month seems so reasonable when you start by showing how it’s theoretically possible to write 14? I think I’m going to go take a nap.

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Author, artist, romantic, insomniac, exorcist, creative visionary, lover, and all-around-crazy-person.