I happened on a post today about a man, Liam Kingman, who has taken on the challenge to read and write three million words in 365 days. At first blush, it sounded like a fantastic idea. He quotes Stephen King who says (and I don’t disagree) “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I am aware of, no shortcut…” Then I got to thinking about it, and discussing it, and decided that while in theory it’s a great idea, in practice it simply isn’t feasible. Perhaps for someone who writes more than I do, but for me certainly, it’s not possible.
His idea is to write one million words of his own, re-write one million words of other authors, and read one million words. Again, in theory, fantastic idea. It’s not unlike NaNoWriMo, where you write 50,000 words in 30 days, which works out to be 1670 words per day. To write one million words in 365 days, you have to write 2740 words per day. Nearly twice the turnout for NaNoWriMo. I haven’t even managed to win NaNoWriMo, which is only one month’s commitment, there’s no way I can keep up that pace for an entire year.
In addition, simply rewriting someone else’s work without any other reason than basically busy work seems like a pointless waste of time for me. Now if I were to, for instance, take a poem every day from an established poet, or a passage from a book, and then write my own work inspired by it that’d at least have a point. Not to diminish Kingman’s ideas about it, but I just don’t share his reasoning.
So I’m left with a couple of thoughts. I really would like to push myself to write more. Stephen King is write, the only way to succeed in writing is to write a lot. But 2700 words a day is well beyond my usual production, and I don’t think I can keep it up for a full year. I can easily read a million words in a year, and that is definitely in my plan, but the writing part daunts me. Even if I cut it in half, it seems like a lot, but they don’t call it a challenge for nothing.
To that end, I am challenging myself to write one million words this year and read one million words this year. The writing will be split into two parts: re-writing the works of others which I will then write my own poetry or prose inspired by it, and perhaps discuss my thoughts about the piece as well, and other writing of my own (poetry and prose and blogging) as well. I don’t know when I’ll begin this; during the holidays might not be the best time. Perhaps January 1st, as it’s a traditional secular time for beginnings. Or perhaps I’ll begin December 22nd, as that’s the first full day of Winter, and the first day of the return of the sun. Or maybe I’ll just start today. After all, if I continue to put it off, I’ll only continue to find reasons to put it off.