200 Days of Writing Infographic

A little over 100 days ago, I posted my 100 Consecutive Days of Writing Infographic. On Saturday, in addition to finishing the first draft of my first novel, I also hit 200 days of writing. Note that I don’t say 200 consecutive days of writing. That is because I missed 2 days out of the 200, both days coming during my stint at the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop in mid-July.

Still, I thought it might be interesting to folks to see what all 200 days of writing looks like because, among other things, the period contains my writing of the entire first draft of the novel. So, here it is, my 200 Days of Writing Infographic:

200 Days of Writing
Click to enlarge

Are few thoughts on the infographic and what it tells me.

1. Where the “final reboot” arrow points (late May) is where, after many false starts, finally started on the draft of the novel as it now stands. The orange squares represent re-writing I did of the original material that I considered to be a complete rewrite of the story that I had written thus far. I think this is probably where I realized I wasn’t dealing with a short story any longer.

2. In early June, after the blocks of orange (rewrite), my focus is entirely on writing a the novel as a draft and I think it shows. After this point, there is no major rewriting, only a little bit of minor tweaks to the previous day’s work, and only a little nonfiction writing.

3. During my vacation in Maine and going through my attendance at Launchpad, I was in what many novelists call the “middle muddle.” This is the tough part, where is seems like the story is bogging down. I just had to brute-force my way through this part. In general, the daily word counts are down, and it is during this time that I missed 2 days .

4. When I returned home from Launchpad, I’d pushed through the middle muddle and the writing really began to take off. You can see this more easily when looking at the entire diagram.

5. I finished the 200 days strong, with more than 4,000 words on Saturday, but of course, I was racing to finish the novel draft and that helps explain what’s going on there.

6. The three days in which I wrote more than 4,000 words were all done at the Arlington Central Library instead of my home office. It tells me that getting out of my normal environment when I need to be really productive helps a lot.

7. During the 200 days, I wrote 182,000 words of fiction and nonfiction. Not indicated on this chart, but equally important to note is that during the same period, I also wrote 149,000 words worth of blog posts. So in 200 days, I managed to write more than a quarter of a million words. My fiction writing daily average comes out to 910 words/day, nearly twice what I was aiming for.

Last night, I worked on a new story, since I’m setting aside the novel for a few months. It felt a little strange to be working on something different, after spending so much time with the same characters. Nevertheless, I managed to write over 800 words on the new story, and more importantly, I wrote. I didn’t take the day off. I kept the streak going.

Over the course of 200 days, my best consecutive-day streak was 140 consecutive days. That streak broke back in July. Since then, I have started a new streak, in which I am aiming to break the old record. As of yesterday, the current streak stands at 56 days.


    1. Ben, perhaps the biggest surprise for me in all of this is that I learned to write everyday without a set time. Because in the past, set times only worked for short periods. With a full time day job and two little kids at home, I have to be adaptable. Most of my writing gets done while the kids watch cartoons before bed. I usually get between 300-800 words done in the 20-30 minutes I have. Sometimes I’ll write more after they are asleep. But the real trick for me is being able to write at any time (even if I only have 10 minutes) and under any conditions. Check out the post from 100 days of writing where I detailed some of the things I learned more specifically.

  1. I track my writing metrics pretty closely as well and I’m very interested in learning more about the methodology you use for counting edit/rewrite words.

    Editing/rewriting obviously involves deleting and/or replacing a lot of words and after a full revision the overall story might be close to its original length or smaller. Even if it’s over, the total number of words I actually wrote that day are a lot higher than the final word count would suggest so a straightforward before and after comparison isn’t going to work.

    I haven’t found a good way to handle this yet other than an awkward process where I don’t delete unused words until I’ve finished the editing.

    I’m guessing you’ve got some automated magic somewhere along the line.


    1. If I decide there is a chunk of text I’m not going to use, I don’t exactly throw it away. At the end of each of my documents I have a section called “Deleted Scenes” and I simply moved the unused chunk there. It ensures that new words get counted accordingly. Put another way, if I delete a 300 word scene and then write a new 500 word scene to replace it, that would be a “net” gain of 200 words. However, I actually wrote 500 new words. So I move the 300 words into the deleted scenes section, so that no words are actually deleted. The 500 new words are counted completely, but I can easily see what I deleted by looking at the Deleted Scenes section.

      As far as minor edits to the previous days work, my Google Writing Tracker scripts help out enormously with this. One thing these scripts do is send a copy of the day’s work to Evernote. The text is color coded so that I can see what I added new (green), what I deleted (red) and what I changed (yellow). This is based more or less on a standard DIFF comparison. The results for a typical day look something like this:


      Might nightly scripts color-code this and send the results to Evernote. I then have other scripts which can look at this and parse out exactly how many words I changed in the minor edits. That said, for the infographic, I eyeballed the items on the grid highlighted in yellow because it was easier to do it that way. 🙂

      1. Got it, that makes sense and I do a similar thing for rewrites, I partition off the old text and add the new writing in its place. If I’m reusing text I cut and paste chunks into the new position.

        I have your nightly scripts up and running and they work very well so I suspected you were using them somehow.




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