One of the pieces of advice you often hear for new writers is that you have to write a million words of crap before you can write anything good. Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve just passed that milestone.
As of a couple days ago, I have officially written a million words since I got serious about writing in 2006 (7 years ago). I wrote mostly non-fiction during those first couple of years before I graduated in 2008. If you’re only counting fiction words, I still have about 400,000 words to go before I reach a million words of fiction.
So how does it feel to have written a million words overall?
Well, I don’t feel like I’m stumbling around in the dark as much as I did at the beginning; I think I have a greater understanding for what the road ahead looks like. When I read my work now and compare it with the work of beginners, I think: Yeah, I’ve learned something, I’m getting pretty good at this. But when I look at the work of writers I admire, I feel oh so far away. I think it’s because I now have a greater appreciation of what separates me from them, whereas at the beginning, it took all my strength to just show up. But now, I think I finally understand how much effort it takes to actually finish a story.
From here on out, I think that writing is going to be a lot harder, but I’m also equipped with more tools than I had before.
So, how does a million words feel? The other day when I looked at the spreadsheet I use to track my writing and saw that I wrote my first million words, I said, “Hey, cool.” And I let myself feel proud for a moment.
Then I opened my latest novel-in-progress and got back to work.