Sunday, January 24, 2010


Sometimes coming up with a first line for a blog (after taking way too long of a hiatus) is just as hard as coming up with a first line for a book!  So I'm just going to jump right in :)  A few times this year, someone's asked me what advice I have for writers.  I actually love this question because I love to see how OTHER people answer it.  I'm constantly wanting to change my answer and offer caveats because there are no rules in writing and to ever talk in absolutes in the writing world can often get you in trouble (there is always an exception to every rule but that's for another blog).

But there is one absolute rule that I have: if you want to be a writer, you have to write.  Not every day, not every month but at the end of the day/week/month/year/decade, you should have more words on the paper than you did at the start.

Writer's write.  Writers may also blog, tweet, critique, whine (I'm a fan of that), outline, vlog, etc., but they all write.  Or should write (and that's a topic for another blog as well).

As some of you who've been around my blog for a while might remember, back in 2006 I started on what I called the Ten Year Plan.  It was a pretty basic plan: I would write and seek publication for 10 years without quitting.  If I didn't make it in ten years, then I could re-evaluate.  Really, it was my way of dedicating myself to the task of seeking publication and giving myself enough time to really truly see if I could do it.  Also, I was hoping that if I said I had to do it for 10 years that I wouldn't wuss out when I got rejected or thought it was too hard.

At the end of that first year, I counted up the words I'd written that year: 171,701 (you can see the post here - the project without a name that I mentioned is The Forest of Hands and Teeth).

I could probably go back and tally how many words I've written in the years since then (and might once I'm out from under this deadline) but after re-reading that post I became curious about how many words I'd written in 2009.  Here's my tally (and they're rough cause I failed to keep a proper log this year and can only look at the documents I have):

The Dead-Tossed Waves: (first draft written in 2008 but about 50,000 words added in edits in 2009)

Untitled Book Three in Untitled Series:  85,000
Short Story 1: 10,500
Short Story 2: 5,100
Other Short Story starts: 3,500
Cut Files: 190,000
Other Projects: 4,000

TOTAL WORDS IN 2009:  348,100

And yes, looking at the sheer size of my cut files (which I always name "errata and lost words") makes me a little sick to my stomach (okay, a lot sick to my stomach).  Also, I find it REALLY interesting that my output of words is about double what it was in 2006 - I'm not sure I ever would thought that to be the case.

So what do I have to show for those words?  The Dead-Tossed Waves will be out March 9, 2010 and those two short stories should be out in the fall of 2010.  The Untitled Book Three in Untitled Series will be out in Spring 2011.

I never wrote down my goals for 2009 so I'm not sure what I was expecting to accomplish, but I'm pretty darn happy with what I ended up with!  Speaking of goals, I guess I should start thinking of those for 2010... hmmm....


Barrie said...

I call my cut file: Loved, but Lost. ;)

Stokes said...

Great blog post. That was one of the first things I remember hearing when I decided I wanted to write something longer than short stories: "writers write." I swear I spent an entire year *thinking* about writing and creating stories in my head before I actually sat down and started.

I looked for your book at Barnes yesterday and they were OUT OF STOCK. So I'm ordering it. :)

-Shyla Stokes

Dana Elmendorf said...

March 9th! Warm happy smiles. So far I can't seem to write more than 100K in a year but I still have a little one at home so I guess all things considered not too bad. He will be in kinder next year and man my fingertips will fly! My lost words files is lovingly called "Scraps" Original huh, not.