Three years ago today I started a personal project to write 1,000,000 words. This was inspired by the adage that, “the first 1,000,000 words is practice”. Since that time I have logged movie reviews, half-finished novels, random bullshit, and lots of grad school assignments. I have thru this time kept a log of how many I have written. Starting at first with a goal of 500 words each day, under the reasoning that some professional authors write as much as 1,800 words each day. That was optimistic in the extreme.
I quickly fell behind and even as I banged out huge assignments at school and tried to write down something about more and more of the shows I watched less and less stuff interested me as targets and I personally felt less creative in a lot of ways.
My first year doing this I logged 139,441 words. This doesn’t include facebook statuses, tweets, or comments in forums (unless I later turn those into blog entries). It is work that I either put out into the world to be evaluated via school and this blog, or it was work that I wanted to one day put out in a grander form to be evaluated. This worked out to 382 words each day. Close to the 400 words a day I have seen recommended by Neil Gaiman an author whose work I hold in great esteem.
In the second year I kept up the pace for the most part. 134,511 words. Much of which came from a single massive assignment to complete my first Master’s degree. A lot more math was required at this point, with hours of time spent hammering out projections and breakdowns as part of a political evaluation for my degree. Writing was less a priority and less a part of my day to day functions. Overall this was a step down, but was still in the same range of 368 words each day.
This last year has been less a step down and more of a ladder down. I didn’t feel nearly as creative; most of my school work was doing basic learning in a foreign language or using mathematics, mapping, and design tools; and even the yearly movie reviews I typically do just to drive up my word count… I didn’t feel the drive to put them out there as most of the movies I saw last year fell into the very grey middle for me and hardly required comment (though there have so far been two exceptions). I was and still kind of am mentally burnt out. I only wrote 46,886 words in the last year. A third of what I have done in the past. 128.5 words each day… Except that is wrong, it was only 128.1 because I have to include a leap day. This is only the 5th blog I have written in 2016 and it is April.
Now that isn’t the whole story, I have been writing more in forums, discussion sections, and comments on various websites so that lets out a lot of ideas before they have fully developed. Maybe those pasts are letting out too much creative energy and I should give up on that talkative aspect of my online self. Maybe those posts are good enough to consider as real writing effort and I should start counting longer or more in depth posts toward my log. I will probably compromise and start turning more of them into blogs, the one from yesterday is an example of that.
I have also stopped counting the fiction I write until it is finished, which means that a dozen chapters of a novel that will never get done, those thousands of words go nowhere. I have also not been sharing or measuring stuff for when I write a setting for Dungeons and Dragons, which can translate to thousands of words. Maybe I should start putting out lots of stuff related to my Dungeons and Dragons imaginings. Perhaps my actual word count is not as bad as I think.
It is not like the exercise is not doing its job. My writing is much better than it was. I rarely need a second draft, and aside from the numerous typos I feel that my thoughts are coming thru in clear waves to those who read my stuff. Heck, before I started logging my word count I was blogging in the note section of my facebook in a deliberate effort just to hammer out more words for fear that I would be too glib for success in graduate school (some of those old entries are on here, upgraded a small amount, artifacts when I only wrote about comic book characters).
Oh, for the halcyon days when a 1,345 word blog about Black Panther was the longest I had ever written. Compare that to the 6 part epic I did on the Florida Legislature and the need for a new Parliamentary system to combat Gerrymandering. Or if you want to stick to comics the 8 part series I did on just making up 3 different teams of DC superheroes to be Justice Leagues.
What I am saying is, I have most definitely met goals of improving both the verbosity and virtue of my writing. Though I am sure many of my Professors remain unimpressed.
I do hope that in the future I get a job that requires regular writing as part of the job’s function. I feel that prodding is important, and being paid for writing is the right sort of positive association that will keep me writing recreationally. And maybe this next year I will be able to push myself to write something with enough substance that even if it is not great in volume it will be greater in quality.
For now I will just have to keep writing. And get thru this patch.