Is There an 80/20 Rule of Writing?

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the first part of a manuscript only takes a small fraction of the time allocated to write it. The remainder of takes the majority of the time. I’m wondering if there’s an 80/20 rule of writing that I didn’t previously know about.

For those who don’t know, the Pareto principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. As an example, 80% of sales come from 20% of the clients. 80% of the wealth is owned by 20% of the people. 80% of injuries come from 20% of the possibly causes. There’s a lot of research that’s been done on this, across several field. While the numbers vary, in about — wait for it — 80% of the cases numbers round to the 80/20 ratio.

I can write a 96-page book in 10 days. That’s Monday through Friday, two weeks. Roughly the first 75 to 80 pages of a puke draft are done in two days. The last 16 to 25 pages take the other eight days. It’s concepts that need to be fleshed out more clearly. There are things I’m not sure how to explain. This is just the first draft. It’s not including another draft, revisions, or editing.

Whether this is a universal law or just the way my personal process works, it’s a useful realization. I can stop beating myself up when the first couple of days on a new project go smoothly, but the rest it agony. There’s no need to stress when things go quickly in the beginning, and seem to take forever until the manuscript is complete. It’s normal. That’s just how it goes. I can stop worrying, and focus on the work.

The 80/20 Rule of Writing

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