Chuck Jones told would be artists to draw, explaining that “you’ve got a million bad drawings inside you and the sooner you get them out, the better.” Raymond Chandler is reputed to have told would be authors that they have a million words of crap to get out of their system. And in both cases there’s a lot of truth there — if only because it allows you to keep going despite your technical limitations and inability to get the words or the pen to do what you want, and eventually find yourself, well, competent. And some of the words and pictures you turn out on the way can be pretty good too. —Neil Gaiman’s Journal (22 October 2002)
I’m not sure where you’re supposed to start counting those million words so I decided to start my tally with the first short story I wrote in 2007; this was when I decided to get serious about fiction writing. It’s currently unpublished. (Not surprising, since it’s at the very beginning of the “million words of crap” category.)
I have written about 319,000 fiction words. If you want to include the my published journalism stories than that puts me at about 454,600 words, or almost half way. My thinking is that since fiction writing is what I want to do, than fiction writing is what I should count.
When I look back at my journey since 2007 I feel like I’ve learned so much, yet that number – 319,000 – is so small. I’m not even half way to where I want to be. But I’m excited about all the cool destinations I have yet to reach.
Time to start writing.