What I’ve Learned from Writing 1 Million Words

This is a post that I’ve dreamt of writing for a long time.

At the beginning of 2019 (literally, just a couple of days into the new year) I began keeping track of my writing. I didn’t count blog posts, school, planning/plotting/outlining, brainstorming, any writing collaborations (which is something I used to do with my sister), and anything on paper.

I gave myself a lot of time, estimating that I wouldn’t get that much writing done during high school, or right after, and setting the goal end-date as my birthday in 2023.

Here I am. Just over 2 1/2 years before that date.

And I’ve written over a million words.

Source

Here’s a tracker as proof:

I updated this every time I finished a project, and it was finishing my NaNoWriMo novel that pushed my word count up that little bit you see at the very end.

It has taken me about 5 1/2 years to write this many words. I mean, I definitely got faster at writing the further in we went. But yeah. It’s been a long journey.

I thought it would be cool to chat a little about writing: my biggest mistake overall, my best recommendation, and my best tip on the actual process of writing.

My Biggest Mistake

Over the years, I have made a litany of mistakes in my writing, and just as a writer in general. I won’t name them all, of course, and if you’ve been around for a while, you’ve probably heard about a lot of them. But there is one that laced through my writing for a long, long time that I only finally managed to recently fix.

Thinking there are Standards to be Met and ‘Rules’ to Follow

Heads up: I’m going to referring to ‘rules’ in quotations through most of the whole post; there really aren’t any real ones in writing, which is exactly what makes this mistake such a bad one.

Coming into the writing world, I was a naive, starry-eyed girl who just really wanted to write amazing stories.

Source | Younger me with no idea what she’s getting herself into

But after a while, I began to notice that there are ways to better your writing through more than just practice. I began to research writing. That was about the same time I started:

  1. this blog
  2. writing The Storm Inside

I thought that there were certain things ‘real’ writers did. That there were rules to be followed, a sort of secret formula that would make the ‘perfect’ story.

It sounds absolutely crazy to me now, looking back. But I thought that there were certain ‘rules’ I had to follow to get a story that was ‘good’.

I learnt the ‘rules’, and I followed them. But now, I really view those ‘rules’ as… unnecessary.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve recently been releasing posts where I debunk myths that I used to completely believe. The Inciting Incident. Editing while writing. Rereading your writing. Things I thought were either black or white, but turned out to have a little grey area in the middle. (Or a lot. Making it very confusing. *looks pointedly at the Inciting Incident*)

Source

Writing is an art form. Every book does not follow a formula. Every book you write shouldn’t, either. There are ways to improve, of course, or I wouldn’t be here every 2 weeks to post tips that might help you on your own journey as a writer. But everything depends on the writer themselves. Who they are, and how they work.

If a rule doesn’t work for you… toss it. Ignore it. Blatantly flaunt it.

Source | 22 giving us an example of what we should do

Maybe someday you’ll change your mind and switch sides. I know I’ve done that before.

Source

Recommendations

If there’s one thing I would share with any creative any chance I get, it would be this:

Prioritize Joy

Something I lost sight of during my writing journey was the joy of it. I got so sucked into the idea of that ‘perfect’ story with all those ‘rules’ and guidelines being followed to a T that I lost all joy. I wasn’t really even creating anymore.

The Storm Inside is a project I will never go back to and finish. Will I steal themes, characters, and possibly even some specific lines from it in the future for other books? Yeah, probably. But I’m never going to write that book again. I lost my joy in writing while working on that book, and that is a place I’m never going back to.

Focus on what brings you joy. Line your story with a message that matters to you, that you want to share with the world. And really chase after your dreams in a way that aligns with you.

Much like with writing ‘rules’, toss what doesn’t work for you. Keep what does. What works for some other writer might not work for you. Take different methods, mash them together, or completely destroy them if that’s what your heart desires. Be unapologetically you in all aspects of your writing. Once you lose sight of yourself of all things in your writing process, you’ve lost. Period.

The Process

I see memes all the time about writers doing things other than writing because they don’t want to write. And I was reflecting recently that… I actually don’t relate to that anymore. While writing The Storm Inside, I would literally procrastinate writing it, but now…?

Make Time

I learnt during 2020 how to make time for writing. That I really can do it if I want to. And I also discovered that I do really want to. I got up at 5 in the morning just so I could during the first semester of the school year.

Source

Love what you write. This really ties into the last one, but seriously. Write what you want to, what you most want to share with the world. A message wrapped up in the gift of a story.

Writing is a medium. Music is one, and so is art. These are ways that creatives use to spread a message. Story is arguably one of the most difficult ways to do so, because, as I debunked in my second point, people believe that writing comes with rules. In any other medium, it’s a commonly accepted idea that there are no rules. Yet for some reason, those same rules are slapped onto writing in permanent ink.

Writing is a form of expression. It’s a way to share. So write what you want to share. To do that, though, you first need to make the time.

Let me say that last bit again:

Make.

The.

Time.

I cannot stress that enough. Make the time because you a writer and you want to write. And, if you don’t, just take a break. Sometimes that’s all you need. I promise, eventually something will spark your creativity again, whether it’s in days or years. Because we are creatives, and we just can’t live without that constant act of creating.

Don’t forget to save this post for later!

It’s really cool to get to write this post. I’ve dreamt of doing this for a long time. I hope that someday I’ll be back with a post on having written 10 million words instead. ๐Ÿ˜‰


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

2019: The Year of the Jump

How to Find Happiness Despite the Chaos

2020: The Year of Finding Pure Joy


I’ve learned so many different lessons over the years as a writer. I guess that’s how I’ve been able to post so much here. If you want to stick around and see what else goes down as I write more novels, make sure to subscribe! I offer a free 7-day course on how to kick some writer’s-block butt, as well as kick a writing slump to the curb. I know I mentioned above about taking a break, but there are some other methods you can also use that I talk about during the course. ๐Ÿ˜Š Not to mention, you’ll get emails with exclusive insider info, as well as the password to my Resources page (which changes monthly). I hope to see you on the inside! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Does anyone else like to keep track of the amount of words they have written?

How long have you been following my blog?

And did you also use to buy into the idea of following writing ‘rules’?

-Julia

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

14 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned from Writing 1 Million Words

  1. Congrats on 1 million words!!!!! That’s amazing!!! And yeah, during my first few years of writing seriously, I tried to follow evvvery “rule” out there. Now, I follow Barbossa’s terminology, “They’re more like guidelines.” XD I use what works for me and just try to keep an open mind to the rest in case it works for me down the road.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! ๐Ÿ˜„ Haha, yeah, he actually had some good advice there. ๐Ÿ˜† For sure! I like trying out new things, now, but I’m also willing to stop doing things just because someone else told me that I need to do them. ๐Ÿ˜Š Some stuff works, especially when you get technical about how you’re doing things (like flashbacks or foreshadowing), but sometimes things just don’t fit. *shrug*

      Thanks for reading! ๐Ÿ˜

      Liked by 1 person

  2. CONGRATS ON 1 MILLION WORDS! *throws around chocolate and confetti* Love all these gifs, especially the 22 one *wiggles eyebrows obviously at you*-and HAH, the no sleeping gif basically sums basically everything up in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THANK YOU! *accepts chocolate and dances in the confetti* Me too! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Pfffffft yep; that’s like, a basic description of what I’m like during the school year. ๐Ÿ˜

      Liked by 1 person

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