Real Life Word Counts, Writing in your Bones

WordCountM.J. here… Earlier this morning, I shared this post in the private Facebook group for the members of our current Draft House season. We’ve been talking a lot in this group lately about word counts and staying on track with your writing goals; as well as managing the inevitable setbacks that come with being both a writer and… well, a human. I hope other writers and aspiring writers will find something useful in my snapshot perspective on the nitty gritty of getting it done.

Yesterday I sent a (very rough) first draft to the printer so I can start editing this weekend. (HAPPY effing DANCE.) It is 122,728 words, 110,141 of which I’ve written since the current Draft House started in August. That doesn’t include almost 14,000 words of discarded text that I liked enough to put in a separate folder after cutting, plus probably at least that many words that got deleted in smaller chunks along the way. So, roughly 140,000 words since August for an average of about 770 words a day, including my days off (so my average for writing days was a little higher than that to compensate). I will write and delete at least 10-15K more before it’s well and truly done.

Up until two weeks ago, I did this with a full time job; and the whole time I’ve had two young kids. I took Thanksgiving week entirely off and the Jewish holidays, plus a few days in December. I had one weekend of full writing alone in a hotel in mid-November.

I’m not posting this to toot my own horn. The opposite, actually: There is NOTHING special about me (at least not in this regard). I’m not especially disciplined in any area of my life, I don’t wake up brimming with words that jump onto the page. Many days it’s a struggle just to get myself to the keyboard and re-orient myself in what I’m doing. I have to battle ADHD and self-doubt and the call of many other things that seem more interesting than pulling tedious, cliched thoughts out of my own head at any given moment.

The reason I have accomplished what I have is simple: I WANT THIS. I am a writer. This is who I am, what I do, what I want for my life. Even the shittiest words I write each day are little cells that help make up the skeleton of my purpose in this world. Do I wonder if I’m wasting my time? Sometimes. Do I keep going anyway? Absolutely.

There is exactly ONE way to find out if you can really do this, and that is to really do it. Every day. Even when. Instead of. In spite of.

If you want to be a writer, if it’s in your bones, there is no better moment than NOW. Go forth and make your words heard.

Wishing you all a productive and energizing weekend!

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