Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How Many Words

If you're a writer, you've probably heard that adage about needing 1,000,000 words (give or take) to really get a handle on your writing (this links to Kidlit.com, a blog run by Mary Kole of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency... it's geared toward MG/YA authors, but she gives some pretty good advice for writers across the board).

A decade ago, I would have laughed (internally of course) at someone who told me I needed that many to find my style, voice, all that good stuff. Now I wonder if it might require ten million for me to get to that place where confidence and ability go hand in hand. Hope not, otherwise I've got a long way to go. I'm guessing I'm somewhere between 1.2 -1.5M (No, I'm not counting my WWIII stories - complete w/ fiery pictures - from 3rd grade).

Counting short stories, novels+revisions, writing exercises, and anything else writerish, how many words you got, and as you've written more, do you find yourself yearning for those days when you didn't know what you didn't know?

PS - Matt, the one who does most of the legwork for the blog, enlarged the font size. Please let us know if it works or if cross-eyed blurrage still occurs.

18 comments:

Matthew Delman said...

Hazarding a guess, I'm going to go with somewhere around your number.

SoM has gone through at least seven revisions (some unfinished), which should net me half a million easy, and CaN alone gets me to 250k minimum with all the writing and rewriting I've done.

As for short stories, writing exercises, background work, etc .... yeah I'll go with approximately 1.5 million words.

Genie of the Shell said...

I estimate I've written about half a million words of creative writing since high school. Maybe, by the end of revisions on my current WIP, I'll be near a million!

My writing is largely untested as I haven't tried to publish anything yet, but I do feel much more confident and competent than I did a few years ago. Taking classes and joining writing groups and forums really helps.

J.J. Bennett said...

I have no idea. I should figure it out though. I do wish I could go backwards to the place I was blissful and happy with everything and anything I wrote. Gone are the days...

L. T. Host said...

I have no clue where to begin counting my words. But I know it's getting up there.

And no, I don't miss the days when I didn't know what I didn't know-- I wouldn't trade the knowledge I have now for anything. Looking back at my writing from before I actually started trying to learn about writing is... embarrassing. Thank goodness I've learned what I have, I know my writing is better by extension.

Rick Daley said...

I'm fine with the font size. I have no clue as to the word count I've produced to date, but I am confident in the progress I have made and in my capabilities as a writer.

I also know that I have a lot yet to learn, and I'm enjoying my current WIP because I'm thinking about it from new angles afforded by my past experiences.

Bane of Anubis said...

Matt, I am constantly impressed by your revision vigor.

Genie, thanks for stopping by. Sounds like you're going at it the right way... wish I'd had your wisdom and patience starting off :)

Jen, yeah, the rules are one of the big reasons my head keeps spinning. All the damn rules.

LT, I envy you your happy knowledge :)

Rick, in some ways it's the different angles that confound me... too much geometry. Ultimately, I do feel like a better writer, just w/ less confidence now b/c I realize (or at least would like to think I realize) what good writing entails.

J.J. Bennett said...

Bane,

I think you and I are sitting in the same place currently. I think I need someone to bounce stuff off of and have some insight to what I need. Otherwise I sit and stew about it...

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

The font size is much better! My eyes thank you.

The last time I tallied, it was about 1/2 million words - didn't count revisions, just final product, but I did count blog posts! That's just been since I've been writing fiction in the last year or so. More importantly, I feel there has been a definite evolution in my writing, usually in fits and starts of agonized pain as I climb to the next level of (semi-)competence.

And no I'm not longing for the blissful ignorance. I'm just hoping I won't cringe when I look back on my first published work. But I figure, hey, everyone's got to start somewhere! :)

Bane of Anubis said...

Jen, yeah, slogging through the stew :)

Susan, I barely recognized you with the name update :)... 1/2 million in a year -- D.A.M.N. -- that's Kingesque.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Susan Kaye Quinn = the evil alter ego of internet searchability!

Oops - I need to start leaving little reminders (Hi! I'm Susan Kaye Quinn, same as Susan Quinn, honest!).

I'm nowhere near Mr. King in well, just about any measure, but I am a wee bit obsessed with the writing. And horribly impatient. :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wow. I have absolutely no clue. But then, you know how phobic I am about numbers! Ha ha.

P.S. I like the new font size.

Merrilee said...

The bigger font size is an improvement!

I have no idea how many words I have, but it must be well past 1000k by now.

It doesn't really take that long to hit those words :)

Bane of Anubis said...

SKQ - rolls right off the tongue ;)

Shannon, you darned right brained people.

Merrilee -- Nope, not at all ;) unfortunately there's no shining trophy ceremony (I'd take pewter) to let us know we just passed a milestone that may or may not have merit.

Anita Saxena said...

If I had to guestimate...hmm...maybe 500-600K. Guess I have a long way to go =)

Jemi Fraser said...

I have no idea how many words I've written. I've always written and until recently never considered trying the publication route. I'll have to think about that for a while...

Donna Hole said...

Yes, I like the font; works well for this old lady type who stares at small computer print all day long.

I'm not sure my estimated word count. Probably less than half million between the trilogy, shorts, blog posts, prompts.

Comments may push it up a bit though. Guess I'll be an aspiring writer a long time. (shrugs)

I have days where the writing rules I've learned feel confining, but most often I just want to know more, and be able to effectively use what I learn.

Sometimes, it all just feels like soup.

.........dhole

Stephanie Thornton said...

I've written for ten years (or is it 11 now?), but I haven't kept track of my word count. I'm pretty sure I'm past 1 million and I'll tell you- I needed every one of them. I like to think a good writer never stops learning.

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Have to say I am right there with you. Knowing what you don't know is very intimidating. I even used to love reading what I'd written. Oh, for those halcyon delusional days....