Thirty of Thirty: The Road To One Million

So now that I’ve got NaNoWriMo squared away, I figure I may as well tackle the other major writing milestone I’ve never really got around to, that is, writing one million words of fiction. I’ve actually been working on this for a while, technically since 2002:

Word Chart

Of course, my entire wordcount from 2002-2005 is equal to just what I wrote this last November, and while I’ve lost access to fully 100% of those (I used low-ish estimates to make the chart based on estimated words per post, postings per month, and how many months I can actually remember sticking to a project – usually only a few), I’m pretty confident that those 50,000 words I wrote in one month were of higher quality than the ones I wrote over the course of four years. You can tell that 2006 and 2013 are the real take-off points here where my average wordcount per year significantly increased. They also represent breakpoints where I got noticeably better at writing, although I’m not sure which direction causation points on that one.

Now, not all the words here are strictly from noveling, but the old saying that you need to write a million crappy words before you start writing good ones doesn’t have a firm source in the first place, so I’m feeling perfectly free to play a little fast and loose with what counts as words of fiction. The slight uptick from 2002 to 2003 is due purely to my participation in the Middle-Earth Online roleplaying forums, where I estimate I wrote approximately 10,000 words over the course of the year, and made an honest-to-God effort to actually improve my writing. That’s not noveling, but it’s words of creative fiction, and I say it counts. Similar endeavors in Harry Potter and NationStates roleplaying forums accounted for a lot of my 2005 and 2006 output. 2012, 2014, and 2016 were all dominated by non-standard forms of prose fiction (although no, I most certainly do not count the words written on this blog in the 2017 total, because the closest any of them have gotten is in encounter design and worldbuilding, neither of which is writing prose). The only years where the majority of words written were in plain old novel style format were 2009, 2010, sort of 2013, and 2017, and that last one just barely.

I don’t think it’s cheating to count all my weird avant-garde nonsense or any of my embarrassing 13-year old roleplays in the total. I mean, so a lot of early stuff was written in spontaneous, unplanned collaboration with other people, and a lot of the later stuff was written in branching paths and in the second person. It was still prose fiction, and I was still actively improving my craft.

I’ve mentioned before my grandfathered in lifetime membership to 750words.com, a site which has the audacity to now charge people money for the service of having a shitty word processor that will give you badges for writing 750 words a day for some number of days in a row. 750 words per day is a little under half the NaNoWriMo pace, a pace which I regularly exceeded when the need was dire, so I figure I should be able to manage that much while still directing most of my efforts to other projects, which I still intend to complete, only two of which are particularly writing-related and at all likely to contribute to wordcount (those two are Erinyes and Strigoi – they have niche audiences and I am unlikely to share the results here unless I’m hurting for content, something which hopefully will not happen after February 26th of next year, when I will have completed my self-imposed obligation to update the blog once per day for a full year). At 750 words per day, starting December 1st, I anticipate crossing over the one million mark some point in mid-summer of 2018.

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