Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Writing: By the Numbers

I've been wondering lately just how much writing I do.

Too many days, when I'm going to sleep, I think, "Man, I didn't get the writing done that I wanted do," and I feel pretty lame. Or I come home from work (where I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to actually earn a paycheck for writing) and while I may have a head full of ideas and a pile of scribbled notes for inspiration, the last thing I want to do is sit down in front of the computer and write more.

It's always been a difficult balancing act for me, partially because while the work writing is what supports me and my family, the personal writing requires much more passion and energy and dedication, and that can be difficult to rustle up when it's barely – and do I ever mean barely – a source of income.

Anyway, like I said: I wondered just how much writing I did in 2008, word-count wise, so I thought I'd try and find out. (There's obviously a fair amount of ballparking here, and honestly, I kind of hope I've guessed low in a couple places. Not that anyone's likely to figure-check me. But if you do, let me know what you come up with. Also, you need less free time.)

I started with my at-work total, collecting the stories that wound up in weekly print editions last year and getting a figure just under 75,000 words. I'm figuring that's a bit low because I know for sure that at least one mid-length story that ran in print didn't show up in the archive I searched to get this word count. There may be others.

Next, I'm guessing roughly 12,000 total words for my at-work blog, figuring at least 10 entries per month at a minimum of 100 words each.

Finally, there are my online-only at-work stories. These present the biggest question mark, since they range from sidebar pieces to very short bits based largely on press releases. I'll figure 5,000 words total, though I could be way off in either direction.

Now for the stuff I did at home on my own time:

This blog, Cornfield Meet, got about 33,000 words added to it last year.

Over at Field's Edge, I wrote another 13,000 in blog entries and features, which includes four pieces which eventually became chapters in "Collect All 21!"

For "Collect All 21!" itself, besides those chapters, I added 13,500 more words in the form of the introduction, the short Proofs of Purchase bits, and a few wholly new chapters.

There's also another big question mark: I keep a hardbound 8×10 journal, in which I filled 84 pages in 2008. However, when I have a lot of stuff to write about, or when I'm thinking faster than I can write with a pen, or when I've already written something for the blog that I also feel belongs in the journal, I'll just print the results (usually 10-point type, single-spaced) and then paste these pages into the journal. I'd bet 85-90% of those 84 pages were filled this way, although a fair amount of that is writing that didn't appear anywhere else. There's also a good bit of handwritten stuff, too, exclusive to the journal. What I'm saying is this: I've pretty much got no clue on this one, so let's guess low again and say that there are 5,000 words in there that I didn't write or copy anyplace else.

So, give or take: 92,000 words at work and 64,500 words at home for a grand total of 156,500 words. The equivalent of about three shortish books or two mid-length novels. That's kind of cool to think.

Still, I'm really going to try and make the effort this year to more regularly sit down with those stacks of notes here at home and get those ideas out of my head. (That's 649 down for 2009. Bring on the next 99,351.)

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January 18, 2009 - Posted by | Books, Current Affairs, Fiction, geek, Ohio, Weblogs, writing

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