Megan Gambino’s interesting interview with Ben Blatt, author of Nabokov’s favorite Word is Mauve, is an eye-opener. Ben Blatt mathematically analyses twentieth-century classics and bestsellers to understand patterns in the way authors use words and phrases. This way he is able to compare advice like ‘don’t use adverbs’ to fact.Hemingway really does use fewer adverbs than other writers.
Blatt analyses opening sentences, repeated words, the use of weather as a theme in the first sentence, etc. By compiling this data, he’s got a more definitive view of an otherwise vague subject. Read this interesting story here.
Another story I found, this time in The Guardian, was about how the Booker Longlisted debutante Wyl Menmuir uses data from an app to help with his writing process. He is the kind of writer who goes to that extra length to make his book work.
“Menmuir deployed every tool he could think of. He embarked on a creative writing MA for which the planned novel was his thesis. He set himself daily goals. He deployed software to block his access to social media. And he also downloaded an app called WriteTrack (later renamed Prolifiko), which allowed him to set word counts and track his progress.”
Menmuir sets word targets and describes how he feels as he touches every milestone. By reading this essay, it is evident that collecting data about process when the tools are available could be helpful material for every aspiring writer. Read the story How to Finish a Novel and try to finish your own.