A Summary of Writing in 2017
I dedicated May through December of 2017 to writing nearly full time. These efforts came at the expense of my consulting and ‘day job’ in order to concentrate on writing. My goal was to see where it could take me. I wanted to write one novel that had been swimming in my head for some time. I had attempted to write it three times, and three times I had lost it through hard drive and flash drive accidents.
However, being somewhat a productive with my time as a business owner, (read obsessive workaholic) I did quite a bit in this time. All of it no doubt the wrong approach, unchecked, disorganized, without outlines and suffering through the looks of pity from the very few friends and family with whom I shared this endeavor. Without question I have done everything wrong – everything, except for one thing – I wrote.
My Schedule of Self-Inflicted Joy and Pain
I wrote every morning, no matter what. I most often wrote ten minutes out of bed, each morning with coffee in hand at my dining table. Sometimes it was still dark. Sometimes I kept writing at night. Sometimes I woke up with a twisting phrase, perfected by a semi-state of drowsiness, some perfected prose that could not be conceived in the ordered demands of day. Sometimes there was neither starting point, nor path. I was a stranger to my work.
Yet, I wrote and wrote and wrote.
It was lonely and unforgiving. There were days I returned to the page wondering who wrote the last passages – they were good! Sometimes they were the meanderings of a sanctimonious, annoying twelve-year-old who had only started to learn English. Sometimes words came in from other worlds and stories completely unrelated, playful, fun, and beguiling. They begged me to turn my attention to other stories, better projects, and shiny new things different than the black and white drudgery I had fooled myself into thinking worthwhile of anyone’s time.
But – I wrote.
For anyone dedicating time to writing, I wanted to share the results of my time. We all know writing can be a lonely path but one we find worthwhile. And while writers have thicker skins and don’t need validation, sometimes, the truth is, we need validation.
Results of Dedicated Writing Time
Collectively between May and December, 2017 I wrote 307,000 words not including correspondence, emails or anything I would consider drafts that may never see the light of day. The number is based on items I expect to see published or submitted somewhere, at some point.
How My 2017 Word Count Breaks Down:
- First drafts of three novels at 70K, 70K and 50K counts.
- Two in-progress novel first drafts of 20K each. (I did admit to doing everything the wrong way!)
- One grouping of memoir essays of 20K
- Four short stories of 17K words
- Two episodic fiction episodes at roughly 20K
- 70 articles at roughly 20K
That’s 1,280 words per day for 8 months, 7 days a week.
Of course, I took some breaks. But very few. No one should write for 8 months 7 days a week. You need creative inspiration, research, and sometimes a bit of mind wandering boredom to stoke the creative juices as well as organization skills. You also need time to read – quite a bit if you want to write well. Read for pleasure, read for structure, read for interest and sometimes for escape of your own thinking and way of writing.
This word count and strange array of works is not meant to impress. It is to show that writing nearly every day produces results. Yes, there were some 9,000 word days and some 665 word days. But each day, even after 665 days of torture, I returned – to write. For anyone who is dedicating time to writing and thinking it’s meaningless or not going anywhere – your writing is everything. You may be able to concentrate on just one work and produce a 200K new fantasy world or the greatest piece of historical fiction of the 21st century, but it needs to start with writing and it will get somewhere.
I will say I don’t hate any of my works, there is hope for them all, accepting that hope comes with tremendous need for editing and hard work.
Not Writing – So Many Ways
When having difficulty writing or feeling that it is going nowhere, I began to notice just how many resources there are for writers. There are books, blogs and webinars. There are writing conferences and writing groups. There are classes and Meetups and workshops. However, none of this does the writing for me, and for me, for 2017, I needed to write.
As I ended 2017 with people asking me how my “time off” was going, how wonderful it would have been to place my published novel in their hands. However, I cannot because publishing is a long way off. There are arduous, perhaps tortuous months ahead of editing to which I can look forward. I care about my novels, and want to have them be as good as they can possibly be. However I am glad for the count I have. It may only be meaningful to me. But I wrote – a lot. And, if I were limited to one definition for what it means to be a writer – it would be to write.