OutputOne of the interesting things about having a blog is that it lets me track some of my own written output over time. I have a super-secret (okay you can access it if you guess the URL) page that displays my total word count to date as well as my average post length and first two longest posts. When I want more data I'll just ssh into the server and do some mysql queries. As of today: I've written 183,498 words over 3 years. Not very much, relatively. I'm still 816,502 words short of my goal of one million words.
Why one million? Part of the reason for starting this blog was to reach one million words in an easily traceable way. My written output didn't start becoming significant until 2003 or so, so there is 6 years of "lost" output I'm not counting, but I figure I can write it off as statistical error in the end. So again, why one million? I believe that everyone's first million written words are crap. If you care about writing you should try and get those million words out of you as fast as you can.
I saw this notion expressed recently but for artists. Lauren Faust mentioned here:
"Look for guidance and art education wherever you can, but the biggest, most important thing of all is to draw, draw, draw and never stop drawing. Imagine you have several thousand crappy drawings you have to get out of your system before your[sic] any good and try your damnedest to get those crappy drawings out as fast as you can."
She also follows up very quickly advising you not give up if you really care about it:
"Be open to trying new ways of looking at things and changing and DON'T GET DISCOURAGED. You may look at what you have on the paper and want to give up, but every single time you try again, you get better."
There is a similar quote by Ira Glass, he was talking about the radio DJ business I believe but it's very general:
"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit."
Of course, there's another notion of burnout. Looking at my output again, by sheer post count, 2010 won. 2011 was a bit less productive than 2009, and 2009 only "began" in June! Looking at word count is a bit more interesting. In 2009, I had 58,051 words. In 2010, I had 66,763 words. In 2011, I had 58,359 words. (You may notice this doesn't add up to the same number above--they're calculated slightly differently.) So at least 2011 beat 2009 narrowly by word count, even though it had 5 extra months. The decline in the output is an interesting source of introspection for me.
Posted on 2012-01-22 by Jach
Tags: fodder, personal, thought
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