[GUEST POST] Matt Forbeck on The Speed of Write
Matt Forbeck is the author of countless games and many stories. His Magic: The Gathering comic launches from IDW in December, and his 16th novel, Carpathia, hits stores in March. He also has a mad plan called 12 for ’12, in which he plans to write a dozen novels in 2012. His first Kickstarter drive for his Brave New World Roleplaying Game novels hit its first funding level, so he starts writing the first book in January.
By Matt Forbeck
Earlier this month, I launched a project I call 12 for ’12, in which I propose to write a novel every month for the entirety of 2012. I set up a Kickstarter drive to help fund the first trilogy, which is based on the Brave New World Roleplaying Game, a dystopian superheroes setting I created near the turn of the millennium.
To keep things manageable, I’m planning to write 50,000-word novels, a bit shorter than the doorstops seen on most bookshelves these days, but just like the thinner volumes that used to dominate such places. A dozen of those adds up to 600,000 words in the course of the year. That’s a lot of writing.
There’s no doubt this is a Herculean task for any writer, and I don’t deny that it’s a lot of work. Creating things is my full-time job, though, and I regularly write fast enough to manage a pace that totals less than 1,650 words per day.
Before my wife had quadruplets back in 2002, I used to average about 5,000 words per day. These days, it’s closer to 3,000, but that’s still about double what I need.
And, hey, 2012’s a Leap Year, so I get 366 days to take a whack at it.
The unspoken question through all of this is, of course, this: How can you write so fast and not come out with stories that suck?
First, those novels I plan to knock out so fast will be first drafts. They’ll be edited and revised and polished before they’re published. They’ll get more love than just 30 days’ worth before you have the chance to read them. (Well, unless you’re one of my Kickstarter backers who pledges enough to be able to read along as I write, of course.)
Second, the idea that you have to take a long time to labor over every phrase in a book is a lie. Jack Kerouac banged out On the Road in three weeks. Isaac Asimov wrote or edited over 500 books over the career that spanned 52 years. Walter Gibson wrote up to 10,000 words a day to satisfy demand for stories featuring the Shadow. In his peak year, he punched out 1,680,000 words in a year.
Makes 600,000 words seem reasonable, doesn’t it?
Of course, I’m still writing the Magic: The Gathering comic for IDW and handling a number of other projects, not to mention helping raise my kids. It’s going to be a long, hard challenge. I might blow it in a spectacular, literary wipeout.
Still, if that happens, it might at least be fun to watch. If you’d like to see me try it, head on over to the Kickstarter page and check out my mad plan close up and personal. If you want to dare me to try it, all you have to do is click on that big, green “Back This Project” button.
Then you can sit back and watch the fireworks. I’ll be busy making them as fast as I can.
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Filed under: Books
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