How I Journaled Six Million Words In Ten Years
Sometimes writing is a necessity. Sometimes it is for fun. I had never really started with the idea of writing a lot. I feel the minimalist urge to write better quality and a lot less dribble. My journals were an answer to a problem. To have journaled six million words takes some effort!
Yet, here I am. Some twenty years into the game. I started off writing in my journals to better understand my life, to make sense of something I couldn’t understand. Because there aren’t enough good answers in today’s world.
I do however remember a turning point. It was back in the year of 2005 or thereabout, I remember being inspired by a photograph. Back then there was a challenge to write a thousand words about a photograph. I tried it out and found it difficult to do. A thousand words about a photograph is a lot.
Then between looking at the photograph I had taken, the idea came to me; what if I write a million words about this photograph? Is such a thing even possible?
The goal seemed absurdly high. I didn’t think it was possible, yet in some small way with the seed of the idea planted in my breast, I thought, “Maybe I can.”
What It Took:
I had to design my own journal software to do it. It took a few years to work out the program and get all the bugs out of it. It’s a few simple perl scripts that work from the command line. The text editor I use to write my journal entries in is the text editor VIM. Then perl does all the rest.
It’s been a long journey. There have been a lot of ups and downs in twenty years. Some good times, and a lot of rough days. I can say that it wouldn’t have been as good if I hadn’t been writing. It would have no doubt been much worse.
My journal software is fast, clean, and addictive. It is fun to write it the way I do. Like I said, I never started off with the idea of writing more than a million words. But the snowball effect and the years have added up. And now at over six million words, I think that I understand myself better.
And that problem I couldn’t understand, I think that I untangled it sufficiently to at least know something about it. So in some ways I guess it’s a success. I’m closer to myself these days, I just wish that I had someone to spend time with.
My journal software keeps some statistics for me. This year, I have made 961 entries. for a total of 693,006 words this year alone. My typing speed averages 61.01 words per minute, and most entries are 721 words each. The average time it takes me to write an entry is 12 minutes.
After almost fifteen years of writing in my journal, I’ve written four books which aren’t counted in the word count. I’ve also written numerous blog posts, and essays in this time, both of which aren’t counted in the word count.
Maybe I’ve written a lot of drivel. I learned how to write. It only took five million words to be a better writer. I guess that is good. I’ve come a long ways.
One side effect of this mess is that sometimes my fingers go numb. Job hazards I guess. That said, it is not for everyone; and it may not be for you. For those that dare, I suggest you write your million words in a year. It is possible.
Just remember to move on, don’t stay stuck writing the same stuff week after week. Be productive, be useful. And for heavens sake, be kind in your words. We need a lot more kindness.
Maybe it was shear bloody mindedness, maybe it was being stubborn. Somehow it seems like so long ago that I set the goal. Still I need to write that million words about the photograph. Maybe someday I will.
I wouldn’t expect anyone to read them, Don’t even ask.
Therefore in conclusion, there is something you can learn from it, like be wise; don’t make the mistakes I did. It’s been years, somehow I feel they are best left to gather dust. Because, it was written for myself to make sense of something impossible to understand. Do better than I did, maybe your words will change the world. Because, you never know unless you try. Give it a shot.
Written by Christopher Thomas
See my website here: Ctopher