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How many words makes a writer?



This week sees me begin the next draft of my current work in progress. Over 92,000 words and six drafts later, I opened the file on my seventh draft knowing that this manuscript still has a long way to go.

It seems hard to contemplate the number of words I must have written in my, albeit short, writing life. With twelve drafts of the manuscript currently out on submission, another 85k first draft lying in waiting, a 30,000 word novella that will likely never see the light of day, many short stories, many incomplete first drafts, countless blog posts, and the six drafts of my current work in progress… and whoa! – that’s a lot of words.

Can you even imagine how many words someone like Stephen King, Nora Roberts or James Patterson have penned? It’s mind-boggling.

But what isn’t mind-boggling is the simple fact that to be an author, you have to write.

There’s no use sitting at your desk contemplating about writing, thinking about writing, or procrastinating about writing. You have to write.

You have to push past that writer’s block, ignore the impostor syndrome, and plough through all the shitty first drafts. It’s the only way.

You can complete a writing degree, writing courses and workshops, read fabulous books from best-selling authors on ‘how to write’, and trawl the internet for writing advice, but none of those things get the words written. For sure, they help you learn the process, understand the intricacies of story structure and character development, but they don’t help you write the words.

Like many things, writing is an on-the-job learning curve. Throwing yourself in the deep end and getting the words down, is one of the best ways to learn.

You learn about your process, you learn about the craft of story, and most importantly you learn how to make the words work together. It’s not easy, no, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

I know, that every time I tackle a rewrite I am learning. I am growing as a writer. Every single word I pen, makes me a better writer. How can it not?

Will it make my stories perfect? Will it get me published? Make me a best-selling author? Maybe, maybe not. But it will make me a better storyteller.

So, for all those sitting there thinking about writing or struggling with self-doubt, I say just write the words! Write them. And keep writing them.