The Writing Process Is a Numbers Game

By Guest Author

You would think that it would be a words game, but it’s not. It’s all about numbers.

We’ve all seen different definitions of the writing process. One thing they all have in common, though, is that they begin with ideas and end with words on paper (or screen).

While the normal stages: prewriting, writing, revising, editing, and publishing are important and should be followed, there is one topic that is generally not discussed. Numbers.

Michelangelo said, “every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Take a moment to focus on that image.

Writing is the same process, with one caveat.

As the writer, you must first create the block of stone. Only then will you be able to see the statue waiting to be released.

How does one create the block of stone? Well, at the risk of sounding glib, just write.

A successful piece of writing requires two ingredients: time and words. That may sound trivial, but it is more important than it seems.

Editing and revising are the most important steps of the process. Sure, drafting is what everyone thinks about, but the magic of the process happens during the editing and revising.

I wrote an as of yet unpublished novel. My most current draft clocks in around 50,000 words (the lowest word count for a work of prose to be classified a novel). I’ve been working on it for over two years, using it to earn an MFA in creative writing. To reach the 50,000 words of my draft I wrote, over the course of two years, over 200,000. When I shared this information with my advisor, she responded: “Yeah, that’s about right.”

If you are bogged down with a writing project, creative or academic, there is only one way to advance the project. Write words, lots of them.

And then go back.

This article is clocking in around 500 words. To write it, this being my final draft, I have written around 1000.

Words and time. Those are the two secret ingredients everyone is searching for. It’s the key to winning the numbers game.

Words and time.

What are you waiting for?

C. Acevedo is a freelance writer and content producer. You can read more from him or hire his services on CLAcevedo.com.

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2 Responses to “The Writing Process Is a Numbers Game”

  • Julie Link

    Great article! Yet another reminder of the truth of James Michener’s comment: “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”

  • Brian L Carpenter

    Nicely written. Don’t recall who said it, but, “All good writing is re-writing.”

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