Friday, March 16, 2007

100 Hours ...

Currently Reading: The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson

One test* the IRS has for self-employment is 500 hours spent on business activities (props to Cheryl Mills for mentioning this some time ago). I had some concerns about tracking my time, mostly about how pathetic it would turn out. However, this is a business, damn it! Let's get some numbers and get them up front and out in the open.

I started tracking on January 23rd and passed the 100 hour mark on March 13th. 50 days for an nice whole number average of two hours per-day. If only it were all spent writing.

Website: 32.5 hours
I was moving it to a new host, re-creating all the pages, etc., whine, blah, blah, blah.

Conference: 16.5 hours
Well worth every minute.

Blog: 6.36 hours
I only counted the posts that took a while to write up. I don't know if the IRS would agree, but I see this as an extension of my website and very necessary networking with other writers. If onlu I could justify reading blogs ...

Writing: 11 hours
Ugh. I categorized this as new words on the empty page. Even so ...

Editing: 39 hours
Now we're talking. Even if new words were added, most of the activity was to make better something that had already been written. Very happy with that statistic. Quite a bit (23.5 hours) was toward the second draft of the SF novel. Six hours was on a new story (currently fermenting) and another six and a half getting an older story revised for re-submission.

Projecting forward at this pace, a total well over 500 hours.

But an average of 2 hours a day? Is that the best I can do? I have a feeling this topic will come up again at the end of the fiscal quarter.

*I am not an accountant (thank goodness) and the above is not tax advice. If you are interested in the details, check out the IRS publication on passive activity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think that your tracking is a clear sign of taking the job of writing seriously. As for the hours spent on new words on the page -- don't get discouraged.

I'm happy when I get twenty minutes of new words on the page before I leave for the paying job Monday - Friday. That pace translates to approximately 75 hours of new writing per year.

The encouraging thing is that in twenty minutes I can write one new page per day. Over the course of a year that should become a 200 + page rough manuscript.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

March 16, 2007 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger Camille Alexa said...

Man, I love your meticulous listing and tabulating. V. cool.

And rick o.--

funny thing; that's just how you eat an airplane, too, only in much smaller bites and with a lot more time between 'em.

March 16, 2007 at 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's great time. What about research? Time spent researching markets, or studying science that you need for your stories?

March 16, 2007 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

Rick & LBB: Success is certain for you both with such a hunger as you display.

Maybe I should write fortune cookie predictions instead.

March 16, 2007 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

Cheryl: Besides documenting your work, do you find the time tracking info helpful in other ways?

I think I listed one entry as edit/research for some time spent online. I'm not sure how specific I want to get. If it becomes more of a chore to update the spreadsheet, I might discourage myself from keeping it updated. Still a work in progress.

March 16, 2007 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

Cool. I'm not sure I'm at that point of tracking my time. I think I would be at about 60-80 hours so far for th eyear, and most of that would be in non-writing related expenditures. Keep up the good work, Todd.

March 17, 2007 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

Thanks Steve. I'd agree that this kind of thing should help, not hurt. That is, if tracking time is a drag, then best not to do it. It doesn't seem to be a test for the IRS hobby vs. business issue, just the sub-section on limited depreciation deductions.

But if anyone is really into data, check out Swivel. The site is pure data-porn.

March 17, 2007 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger Camille Alexa said...

Justine Larbalestier keeps spreadsheets of her novels to track the flow of action.

she uses different symbols to denote different kinds of events or action;

At a glance I can see which pov was telling what chapter, what day it was, where they were, and who was getting the lion share of the novel. You can also have a content column that lets you know whether it’s a sitting-around-talking chapter (”) or a sitting-around-and-thinking (’) or an action-packed chapter (!) or somewhere in between (^) or one with sex (*).

You guys don't do that, do you?

March 18, 2007 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

Not I. Just M$ Word with document map for me.

Tobias Buckell did have a post about writing software for Windows (he is a Mac-dude). I'm thinking of trying one (ywriter)for the next novel to see how it works.

March 18, 2007 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

For the novel I do have a spreadsheet to keep track of all the jokes, what happens in what chapter, and pacing. It's not as anal as JL's, but then I'm just starting to write it, it might get that way.

March 19, 2007 at 10:03 AM  

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