For those of you who know me, you’ll know I love experiments and systems and the data that makes them possible. For those of you who don’t know me…well, I just filled you in. Toward this end, one of my 2013 goals is to keep a better track of how, when and how much I write, in order to optimize my schedule and productivity patterns. Following is my analysis of 2013’s initial quarter.

First, an overview. I didn’t track research, percolation, e-mails with artists and editors or promotional time here, all of which take up plenty of hours (perhaps the most), but are difficult to measure with any precision. So what I chose to track was a single significant metric: how many pages I produced and when I produced them (I did track pitches, they were categorized prose).

The total count was over 207 pages. 132 pages comics (blue) and 75 pages prose (red). This is how they broke down:

As you can see, the general pattern was brief periods off, followed by spikes in production, generally clustered around when things were due.

I decided to make the “page” my standard unit of measure, whether comic script, prose, or screenplay. A page-unit is fairly self-explanatory in comics (the amount of script it takes to set forth a complete drawn, colored and lettered page of comic) and in screenplay format (the amount of words that fill a single page of paper), but I had to do a little math to reach what a page-unit was in prose.

I broke down and averaged the wordcount-per-page in my 100-page screenplay from last year and in ICE AGE #1-#5, STEED & MRS. PEEL #1-#9 and my first four PEANUTS stories (329 total pages). My average wordcount-per-page on comic scripts was 167 words/page (drama seems to take more than humor: PEANUTS averaged 139 words/page, ICE AGE averaged 153 and STEED & MRS. PEEL averaged 177). My average wordcount-per-page for the screenplay was 176 words/page (only one less than the STEED & MRS. PEEL average). So, with these numbers in mind I decided about 175 words of prose would “equal” a page of comics or a page of screenplay.

That huge spike you see on January 31st was when I wrote 8,219 words of prose, or almost 47 page-units (I write prose in Scrivener, which does not separate sections into pages, but when I exported it to Word in a standard 12-point double-spaced format it came to 36 printed pages).

Next slide:

Next I wanted to see which day or days of the week I tended to get the most writing done, so I looked at how many pages I produced by day of the week. Only workdays are shown because I don’t write on weekends. That’s wife/friends/family/church time. As you can see, even excluding the statistical anomaly of January 31t (shown in red), Thursday was my most productive day, followed closely by Friday.

And last but not least, I heat-mapped which hour of the day I produced the most pages:

At some point in the quarter I ended up writing during every hour of the day except 4-6am.

I have long casually observed that 2-6 in the afternoon is my most productive time of the day. It appears it’s actually 3-7pm, but I wasn’t far off. There’s also a morning spike from 10am-noon and an evening spike from 9-11pm. If left to my own sleeping schedule, I’m definitely a night person, but as you can see here, I’m not really a night writer: the numbers plummet after 11.

So what’s the takeaway? Well, it’s only one quarter. As the year progresses, I’m sure trends that can’t be seen now will emerge. The main thing I want to work on, and have wanted to work on for quite some time, is to replace my current boom-and-bust cycle of productivity with a “slow and steady wins the race” approach. Key word “steady.”

Unless I’ve bored the brain right out of your skull, tune in in 3 months for Pagecounting, Part 2!

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