I’ve blogged before about keeping a spreadsheet of my total lifetime word count. When I updated the spreadsheet at the beginning of this year, I realized that I was within close shouting distance of 2 million lifetime words, and that my goal this year of writing 1,000 words a day would get me there before too much longer.
Here’s how I count the words: I use the word count from Word, which seems to be the most accurate (although I don’t write in Word; I open my saved manuscript files in it to get the word count). I enter the initial count when the rough draft of a project is finished. Then, since the final versions are always longer (my rough drafts are often closer to an outline or summary; when revising, I write addtional scenes and fill out dialogue, description, and action), when the project is finished I update the word count to include all the additional words I’ve written. I usually add 20-50% or more words between the first draft and the final version.
Here’s how all those words are distributed:
741,682 – published works up for sale
632,176 – fanfiction posted on my fanfiction site or complete and intended for posting
402,897 – unpublished completed projects in various stages of revision, intended for eventual publication
224,530 – assorted fragments, unfinished projects, and first drafts in progress, and a finished novel or two that will probably never see the light of day.
All of this is strictly fiction writing; no blog posts, forum posts, emails or anything else like that is included.
It took me from 1990 to 2010 to reach 1 million words, from 2010 to 2016 to hit 2 million. If I keep at my current pace, assuming all is well and I’m able to continue that pace, I should hit 3 million in 2020.
And now the big question: Are any of those 2 million words any good? Well, I don’t know. I think so; I work hard to do the best writing I’m capable of, and I hope readers will enjoy what I write. One thing is certain; I’m better now than I was when I started 26 years ago, and I will work to continue to improve over the next million words.