As of today, my book is ~174,000 words long. Last year at this time, it was ~100K words. The scary/good thing is that maybe only 10K of last year’s words are still around in any meaningful way.
Take this morning as an example. I rewrote a scene of ~1500 words that I hadn’t touched in about 9 months. It’s now 2,031 words long, so that’s ~500 new words, but really, almost every word is new b/c I rewrote it to make the scene better fit other scenes I’ve been writing (and rewriting) and b/c it the original text wasn’t all that great. (Today’s version is better, but still needs work.)
I mention all this b/c it’s a glimpse into the process. And, when I started this project one of the podcasts I listen to (Writing Excuses), Harold Tayler (one of the hosts) mentioned something along the lines of “you have to write one million practice words before you get good.”
If you Google that phrase, you’ll find a bajillion hits of folks repeating variants of that phrase.
It stuck in my head because goals can be useful. But, I’ve lost count of how many total words I’ve written — because of the ambiguity I referenced above. Should I only count the 500 net new words? Or should I count them all (~2k)?
Does it even matter?
When I started fiction writing back in March 2013, it definitely mattered. As did the arbitrary goals of 50K total words written, then 100K then 150K, etc. I used to track words per day and words per week; now it’s just net words per month.
Now, it’s more about putting the time in — butt in chair, hands on keyboard (another of Tayler’s lines that stuck with me).
With all that said, I do kinda wish I had kept tracking total words written. It’d be nice to have a “solid” number. But, I suspect I’m about halfway to the 1 million goal.
And not a single one of ’em is published. Yet! =D