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significant numbers

April 5, 2012

Since I did Nanowrimo last year, I have occasionally wondered how many words I’ve written in blog posts. Last night I decided to do something about answering that question. Of course the project took me longer than I wanted to spend (~6 hours last night, 2 hours today). There are probably quicker ways to do it, but the process I followed resulted in a spreadsheet containing a lot more information than just word counts. I also got to reread a lot of my posts as I went. In the last almost-2.5 years, I’ve written some really good stuff!

It took me 19 months to write my first blog post that crossed 1000 words [a river runs through it,  1039], but in the almost-11 months since then, I’ve written 20 posts over 1000 words, including 1 over 2000 [innovation and inner children, 2115].

I have written as few as 2 or 3 posts in a month; or as many as 16 or 17. My average is 8 per month, of an average length of 487 words.

All the time I was working on this project last night, I was on track for a final number around 70,000 words. But there was a burst of longer posts today. So the total, including yesterday’s post, is a whopping 116,963 words.


Sometimes it’s fun to speculate how many words I might have written over the course of my life. There’s no way to know. In the hand-written category, I have:

  • 6 journals (including my first journal from age 16, and travel journals);
  • 12 day books finished, plus the current 1;
  • 2 notebooks for ‘ideas to write about’ (1 just for blog posts; 1 for any purpose);
  • 1 dreams journal;
  • 14 notebooks of ‘morning pages’

I keep electronic copies of any lengthy letters or notes I’ve sent people, including those that were eventually hand-written. I have folders for each year I’ve written letters, 2000 through 2012. (I also have copies of one letter I wrote in 1997, and another one in 1998.) I rarely write letters anymore because of e-mail, but if I have a lengthy e-mail exchange that covers topics of particular interest, I may copy that into an electronic file.

I have 12 other electronic folders that contain things I have written, just since I’ve been considering myself a writer. (There are still more folders for earlier (electronic) writings like those related to school or jobs.)

Fairly recently, I opened up a box containing things I wanted to keep from undergraduate and graduate school. I recycled all the notebooks and binders with class notes. But I kept everything that originated from me: term papers (including drafts); written tests; and maps (hand-drawn for my pre-electronic class in cartography).

Nowadays lengthy ‘journal’ entries are on my laptop (because I dictate them). Sometimes they morph into blog posts, but not usually.


Last year I wrote two pieces that were published someplace other than my two blogs. One was an article for the American Tapestry Alliance’s (ATA’s) online newsletter; the other was an essay on The Slacktiverse blog.

A few weeks ago, I was notified that a piece I had submitted to be published in print was rejected.

It’s almost exactly a year since I took the science writing class at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda. But I’m just now getting to the point where I feel confident that my writing is good enough to get published … somewhere.


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