A year in an equation

Here's a special equation I just concocted today:

365 days in a year
- 104 Weekend Days
- 25 Vacation/Personal/Sick days
= 236 working days

Many people, myself included end up working weekends, and never take anywhere near 25 days off during a year, because let's face it; we're Americans. Americans, when they have jobs, work themselves to death and take a lot of pride in that. Leisure is poison this side of the pond. Whether that's something to be proud of or something incredibly stupid is subjective.

So, setting my sights low, assuming I'd never work a weekend and take all the personal time available to me through a formal employer who by American standards would be considered exceptionally generous, I'd be working 236 days in a year. Continuing with the low standards, let's say in an average day I was capable of writing 500 words of original, edited, publishable copy.

I know that's setting my sights low. I know I'm capable of between 2,500-4,000 words on average daily, with bursts well above and busts well below. Given a structured and focused eight hours of dedicated writing, I can reasonably count on that many words.

Having gotten that out of the way, though, let's return to the figure of 500 words a day. That's reliable, something I could do with minimal effort -- say an hour in between binge watching episodes of Doctor Who or It's Always Sunny on Netflix.

Which brings us to part two of the equation:

236 days
x 500 words/day
= 118,000 words

So, with minimal effort, over the course of a year, during which I've enjoyed a luxurious amount of leisure time, I could have a novel written. Or even most of two novels. Huxley's Brave New World comes in at 64,531 words. Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five shows up with a hair of 47,000. (Take a look at this neat Huffington Post article for more information.)

I'm not saying given a year I'd have a published and successful novel -- just a completed manuscript. In this day and age, that's really all that's needed. Either to use to follow a traditional publishing path, or to self-publish and try to make individual success. The barriers have never been lower.

So I'm forced to ask the question; why have I thought this goal insurmountable for so long? What have I been doing with the last decade of my life? And of course, most importantly, what will I do with the next year?


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