The Million Words

They say the first million words are practice.

For some participating in WriYe, and crazy enough to try it, those million words will come in a year. If you want to write a million words in one year that's... 2,740 words a day, every day. I have friends that could easily accomplish this.

However, not everyone is that prolific. For some, those million words of fiction (or creative nonfiction) may take years. David Hendrickson, a very successful published author, suggests it will probably take ten years.

Ten years.

That's a lot of time. That's a lot of commitment.

Last year I wrote 290,000 words. This year I am going for 325,000 words. Let's say you are more conservative. You go for 150,000 words a year - a reasonable goal. That takes down your million words to 6 and 2/3rds years.

But does it matter how long it takes to get there?

And who decided one million words was a good indicator of the quality of your writing?


Writing is about making yourself (and those pesky voices) happy. It's about fulfilling your goal to write something meaningful. Maybe some write for publication, but they don't have the right idea.

Writing, sure, can always be improved. Anyone going to a workshop, creative writing class or in an MFA knows this: your writing can always be improved. That does not mean that if I go out and write one million words next year and don't focus on anything in my writing, I will magically get better.

Writing for the sheer fact of getting your million words is stupid, honestly. You should write for you. If you want to improve, then do so. If you like your writing where you can't decide between 'gray' and 'grey' in a manuscript, fine. It's your writing.

Do with it what you like. And toss that million word goal out the window.

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Clarissa Draper said...

Woah, I don't think I would write a million words in a year. That' would be the most un-fun million I ever wrote.


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