Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Year of Writing Non-Dangerously

Some of my writing friends have already put up their yearly reports of word counts, most notably James Reasoner, who scribed more than a million words last year, and not for the first time. It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I did not do quite so well as that. In fact, one can calculate that I did about a tenth as well.

I reached 105,352 words of fiction and non-academic nonfiction. This is all material meant for publication and quite a bit of that has been published. I’ve never kept records before but I estimate that this is about the same, or maybe a little more, than my typical year.  In addition, I recorded 62,422 words in my journal, which includes all my blog posts. This is down somewhat from my usual count. This is not meant for publication, although the blog posts are for public consumption.

Of course, there is also my academic work related writing. This includes committee reports, student and faculty recommendation letters, tests, formal university emails etc. I have no way of knowing how many words this entailed, overall, but the IRB Committee that I’m chair of forced me to generate at least 15,000 words. I know that I also wrote over 100 formal letters last year for researchers and student recommendations.

All in all, I feel it was a relatively productive year for fiction and creative nonfiction. It looks like I averaged about 300 words a day, which is often a goal I shoot for. Of course, the average doesn’t reveal my general pattern, which is to write much more in the summer months when I’m off. I averaged better than a 1000 words a day through much of the summer, and during the school year there were plenty of days I didn’t write any fiction or creative nonfiction at all.

 I used to try and write a little bit of fiction even after twelve hour academic days but I think I’m past those times. It’s not like it’s going to change the world, even my world. I’m never going to be a prolific or high-production writer. There was a time when I wanted to be. But these days, I’m OK with where I am.

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24 comments:

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

I don't believe in word counts. I believe in enjoying what you write, and I think you do, my friend.

Brian Miller said...

be the writer you are....is that the same james reasoner that writes the westerns? i have really enjoyed his westerns...

Angie said...

As I've said before, for someone with a day job, you're very productive.

I've never tracked anything except fiction. If I added in blog posts, comments, e-mails... wow. I think this year would still be lower than normal, but I probably surpassed my fictional output on e-mails alone. [wry smile]

Angie

David J. West said...

Good job! I think I've been down the last couple years, but making a greater effort to do more this year.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernard, I mostly counted out of curiosity. I don't really worry too much about that totla.

Brian, yes, same James.

Angie, the journal is easy simply because it's one word processing document so I see the total.

David J., 100,000 is a respectable number of pieces at least.

Oscar said...

Anything you do outside of your daily requirements of school is amazing to me. I haven't been averaging much over the last few months and I don't have a job to go to every day. Hope to do better this year.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm all right with where I am as well.
I wrote 73,000 words in fiction this past year. Bet I wrote more than that in blog posts...

Shauna Roberts said...

That sounds like great production for someone who works fulltime.

Ron Scheer said...

I confess to rolling my eyes when folks post their word counts for the day/week/month/year. I always think of Truman Capote's famous put-down of Jacqueline Susann that she was a "bestselling typist."

Sarah Hina said...

Sounds pretty good to me.

An interesting number to keep track of. I should try it sometime. It might be the kick in the pants I need.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I think, every kind of writing, be it fiction or nonfiction, work or non-work-related, counts. A lot of effort, including creative effort, goes into writing either for public or private consumption. There is satisfaction either way.

Charles Gramlich said...

Oscar, school was also pretty heavy last year. I hope it will be a little easier this year.

Alex, I know, you do a lot of blog posts and it certainly seems to have helped get your name out.

Shauna, not bad, I think. I'm OK with it.

Ron, a very cutting put down in deed. I will probably try to keep a word count this year again. It appeals to my OCD side. But I don't think it is an important element of writing.

Sarah, it was kind of fun but it did take some time, and I'm sure I missed some things.

Prashant, I do spend a lot of time on letters and such, but though I get some satisfaction for a job well done, I don't really 'enjoy' them.

Shauna Roberts said...

I sometimes keep a notebook (for individual books or projects) of how many hours I worked per day and my word count. Not only does it motivate me, but also, more importantly, I can calculate how many words per hour I am averaging on that book or project and so predict better how I am doing relative to my external or internal deadline.

RK Sterling said...

Well, I'd call that pretty impressive given the hours you work! Congratulations! :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Shauna, my counting is complicated by the amount of rewriting I do, which always distorts the daily counts.

RK, thankee. I appreciate that.

Vesper said...

I think you did great, Charles. I wish I could say I've done even a quarter of that... :-)

the walking man said...

I guess I could post in megabytes how many pieces of poetry I have written but none of it would include near daily comments to newspapers which at times can go 500 words.

Prolific is good, but it's not made up in words counts. The only person I am in competition with is Edgar Guest, a Detroit poet for most of the 20th century who left over 11,000 pieces of poetry in his papers. I need another few years to overtake that record, but it has become less important to me after I surpassed 8000.

Curious thing about Guest is, with his HUGE piece count, and voluminous word count, few people today 60 years after his death even know his name or work.

Charles Gramlich said...

Vesper, not too bad a year for me I agree.

Mark, I should have a look sometime at my total output of poetry. Probably not more than 300 poems. Maybe that if I count haiku!

Harper said...

I am impressed and envious but -- like some other folks -- I cannot get my head around keeping word counts. Maybe it is my disordered mind that gets in the way. I wonder if Georges Simenon ever kept track of his words -- he apparently kept track of his women.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to return to my new blog at which perhaps I will follow others' examples by keeping track of word counts in the future.

Best wishes from the riverside . . .

pattinase (abbott) said...

Very productive. I am wandering on the shore of non-productivity. Very bad year.

Riot Kitty said...

Quality, not quantity, right?

I don't think I've written more than a million words in my life, and I was a reporter who could crank out lots of copy.

Charles Gramlich said...

Harper, this is the first year I did it. Mostly just for the heck of it. To see what I'd see.

Patti, I had a couple of bad years in a row, but last year wasn't too bad.

Riot, I figured just from published stuff that I've made more than million. But not by all that far.

SzélsőFa said...

It's not the quantity, but the quality that counts and you know that :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Szelsofa, sometimes it would great to have a little of both. :)