Thursday, May 14, 2009

How Many Words in Your Pocket?

Today at Blooming Eventually our subject is Ray Bradbury’s Writing Theory. Write three million words, he proclaims, and you automatically achieve mastery of the craft.

What does that look like? Let’s see if we can take a stab at how many words I have written.

Where to begin: Does school writing count? Let’s say that it doesn’t. We’ll start with writing I did just for me. So…a few essays in college at 1500 words each, many more in the decade after college; that brings us to maybe 50,000.

Next: the nine years I’ve written professionally, during which there have been another many essays for myself and for publication as well as a several hundred magazine and newspaper articles. We’ll say another 50,000 for essays and 400,000 for articles.

Do you think e-mail counts? Probably not: Even for freaks like me who are compelled to edit even the most innocuous email before sending. All of those angsty teenaged diaries? Who knows. Blogging? Probably counts, but I am fairly new at it: we’ll give me 15,000 words. Newsletters, annual reports, brochures, exhibit copy, web copy, ugh, blah, blah: 50,000.

Then there is that book I wrote. And rewrote. And rewrote. We’ll give it a probably-underestimated 100,000.

That’s it? My grand total life words tally comes to 665,000 words. Wow. Maybe I should have counted the diaries.

But that kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? I’ve been writing professionally for nine years and still am not even close to three million.

I’ll admit I could have employed more focus than I have. Distractions have included beach vacations, small screaming humans, The New Yorker and cream cheese yearning to be scraped out of the DVD player.

(As I write this: “Mom! Boo Boo peed in her pajamas! Mom! A spider! Mom! The head broke off my princess!).

Will I get there? Sure. Eventually. But for now, gotta go...(Mom! My goldfish got out!)


  1. Are those floppies really yours?

  2. We're talking 20 years of writing. Damn right,those are my floppies.

  3. All of this may or may not matter, depending on your goal. Ask Stephanie Meyer. :o