One million words – I think I can, I think I can … hoo-ooo!

Posted: February 2, 2009 in Writing
Tags: , , , ,

Remember when you were seven years old and you decided to count to one million?

I packed it in at an embarrassingly early stage, defeated by the mere thought of ploughing through all those interminable numbers. One hundred and seventy-one thousand, seven hundred and eighty-seven… one hundred and seventy-one thousand, seven hundred and eighty-eight…

Life’s too short, right? Ah, but if I’d known then, what I know now…. Simple things like breaking down large tasks into smaller tasks, taking heart from every milestone, and persevering to the end.

Back then I could count to a thousand. I just didn’t know that if I did it a thousand times, ker-ching! I’d hit the million mark. (And please don’t call that cheating, call it creative problem-solving, OK?)

These days, a million words no longer daunts me. Veny Armanno says he wrote a million words – ten complete manuscripts – before his first novel was published.

Writing just one page a day – 275 words – would not only produce a novel a year, but it would get me to that magic million-word mark within ten years.

And that folks is apparently what it takes – ten years or ten thousand hours of deliberate practice – to become expert, at anything. Playing the violin, performing colonoscopy, writing a novel…

I’d like to think I can get there. I wrote for a living for a good fifteen years – nothing fancy, just news and current affairs items, articles, speeches, a couple of documentary scripts, reports and the like. Now I’m five years down the track with writing fiction, novels mainly.

I think I can get there, by taking it one step at a time, by breaking that mountain of a novel down into something workable – small  achievable chunks called scenes, with each new scene building on the last, progressing plot, character and theme, into that irresistable story that I can’t get out of my mind until I have gotten it down on paper.

I figure my little red engine is halfway there. Halfway up that expert hill. Halfway home. You can hear me if you listen hard to these blogs… I think I can ….  I think I can… I think I can … And you’ll really, really hear me if I ever make it to the top – hoo-oooo!

  1. And it’s those ‘small achievable chunks’ you focus on when writing that stops you losing the confidence to keep builidng your Everest of a novel. 🙂

  2. Sandra Makaresz says:

    If your little red engine is halfway up the hill, then mine is stuck at the station with a broken accelerator cable!

    Always inspiring Chris. I can now return to my desk and break the mountain of a job before me into smaller chunks… much smaller chunks.

  3. chrisbongers says:

    Sandra, that’s not a broken accelerator cable, that’s an overloaded caboose! Once you unhook it and park it in school five days a week, you’ll be surprised at the burst of sheer power you’ll experience on the uphill climb. 🙂

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