The Proverbial Million Words


I heard Tobias Buckell say in an interview at Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing that most writers need to write a good one million words of crap before coming up with anything publishable. Obviously this isn’t always the case, but it got me thinking of how many words I have written.

My total?
276,377 words! Is that a lot? Granted, I’ve written loads more short stories than novel attempts, but that means I’m a little over a quarter of the way to that million. Is that a good thing? I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll break the mold with some short stories, but perhaps those aren’t generally counted and Tobias was referring to novels, which would make sense.

What about your word counts? Count everything that is fiction! All of it, even unfinished stuff!

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

6 thoughts on “The Proverbial Million Words

  1. I think I broke in somewhere between 3 and 400,000. That’s short stories, I wrote like 100 before writing novels.

    Thanks for listening to the show, I should have some new segments up soon, I’m actually procrastinating recording them right now 🙂


  2. Either you have ESP or you constantly check where you get links from because that was a fast response post!

    Thanks for stopping by :).
    I actually have been listening to the show since Tuesday, catching up on EVERY episode and I’m completely hooked. You’re a great addition to the show too Tobias. Very informative stuff you provide to the show.

    Again, thanks for stopping by and I can’t wait to hear more!

  3. I think 1,000,000 is a little .. large. Though that may be wishful thinking. 😉 I saw a huge change at pretty much bang on 100,000 words with me–my first novel sucks, and literally exactly 20,000 words of Nikara had to be totally rewritten: the 20,000 words I’d written first. I think, including all the random bits of novels I’ve written, the snippets of the rest of the trilogy, and about 50,000 words of a story that I use to force myself to write ANYTHING, I’ve got about 500,000 words under my belt. Oddly, I think I’ve gone downhill lately, despite the practise. 🙁 Or maybe I’m just more critical of myself now!

  4. S.M.D: Yeah, I’ll bet I’ll be screwed at that point. Fortunately I’m pretty low on the totem pole for right now, so I scan my website’s logs to see who’s linking to me in case I want to pop in and say ‘hi’ 🙂

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