One Million Words is 2500 Articles

EzineArticles expert Steven Barnes said, “It is said that a novice writer must produce a million words of garbage before finding her true voice. How in the world will you ever create such volume if you constantly judge every word? If only you could learn to turn that voice off, you might not only accelerate your growth as a writer, but learn a critical lesson about the structure of the human psyche.”

If that’s true, at an average of 400 words per article, a novice author could expect to cut his or her teeth (expression that means to get started and learn the ropes) with their first 2,500 articles. If a person was writing 200 word articles (Our bottom acceptance floor for word count), they’d hit a million words somewhere around 5,000 articles… but at 700 words, they’d reach 1 million words around 1,400 articles.

Personally, I’m at about 4-5 million words published and while I’m a bit embarrassed over those first few hundred articles more than a decade ago, they were an important stepping stone that every writer must pass through on their creative writing way to genius. You can do it too and everyone here at EzineArticles.com looks forward to being part of your article writing history!

17 Comments »


1
Ed Howes writes:

I doubt this unattributed quote is true. Most likely came from some writer who produced a million words of garbage before finding their writing voice, then generalizing for the rest of us. In addition, many people will do good, credible and sometimes superior wor before they have found their writing voice, so don’t be discouraged by one person’s observation.

Comment provided September 12, 2006 at 1:59 PM

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2
Audrey Okaneko writes:

I’ve reread articles I wrote a decade ago and would never say “I’m embarassed”. What I would say is that times have changed and some of the advice I offered 10 years ago I would not offer today. I also see where I’ve changed my opinions on some topics making some of my older articles no longer relative.

I’ve also taken some of my articles from 10 years ago and changed them and submitted them today, 10 years later.

It is my belief that we each grow a little bit each day/week/year. I would hope I am not the only one who looks back with a smile, not with embarassment.

Comment provided September 12, 2006 at 4:40 PM

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3

Audrey,

Clarification:

I wasn’t embarassed over the content that I wrote more than 10 years ago, but rather my English sentence structure and grammar skills have significantly improved.

Comment provided September 12, 2006 at 5:10 PM

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4
Lance Winslow writes:

A couple of days ago I wrote nearly a hundred articles at about a 300 word average; 28,500 words. With now about 8750 that is about 2,625,000 words or so at my average article size. 90,000 words is often considered a book. So one could say that is the same as writing 29 books. You know, some of my older stuff was good, but no one reads it, too dry I guess. They seem to read the shorter, quick stuff more. Which is simply the way things are really. I would say that over time one does get better with things like spelling, grammar and or sentence structure too. Of course good editing helps. Unfortunately when the output is really high and the quality editing is really low, then you need to get back to basics. I do like Stephen Barnes stuff really, I take his online newsletter and like to read his comments too. He wrote a great piece on; “Writer’s Block” so I just had to give him a plug for that one;

http://ezinearticles.com/?Experts-Disagree-on-Definition-of-Writers-Block&id=295314

We can learn one heck of a lot by listening to great writers like Stephen Barnes and really contemplating what they say. Whether or not we agree each time, is besides the point. Because he makes us think and in doing we become better writers and I personally would like to take this opportunity to thank Stephen Barnes for his contribution to all writers out there at all levels.

Thank you Mr. Stephen Barnes, thank you indeed.

Comment provided September 13, 2006 at 3:30 AM

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5
Ben Jenkins writes:

lol, you wrote ‘I’m a bit embarrassed’, here is one of my first articles, while i am proud of the content, i wish i had done a better job on the arangement. you have written ad arranged for more than i, and belive me, you hve nothing to be embarrassed about.
you are a very interesting writter and i injoyyour work.
http://drs-five-books-of-the-bible-kjv.blogspot.com

Comment provided September 13, 2006 at 4:52 AM

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6
Dina writes:

If he’s saying “practice makes perfect,” sure, yes, that’s true. The numerical nonsense makes me chuckle. Such a male way of looking at it. Take comfort in your quantities, fellas.

I think this author knows a neat copywriting trick: use numbers in your authoritative statements if you want to sound like you know something that other people don’t. It’s impressive to many who don’t take time to reason that the remark is probably one that can never be proved anyway.

That’s the real copywriting lesson, at least the way that I see it. Always look between the lines.

Comment provided September 13, 2006 at 7:25 AM

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7

Dina,

You have reminded me of the master list of fallacies in logic: http://www.nocturne.org/~jason/fallacies.html

Every good writer should become acquainted with the master list of fallacies in arguments so they know when they are leveraging one on purpose. ;-)

Comment provided September 13, 2006 at 7:33 AM

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8
Dina writes:

Uh-oh, I have more. I think getting feedback from a seasoned professional is essential to “cutting those teeth” as Chris says. Sure, write 2,500 articles. But don’t just float them into space and forget them. Go back, take another look, bring in an expert who can take a critical eye to the work and help you improve the writing.

The inner critic is my friend! I am severely critical, with myself. It’s other people that you have to be more gentle with, I think.

When it’s your own work in question, take the criticism at face value. If someone points out three spots where your article could be better, don’t go home and weep in your bed over it. Shake it off, fix the problems, and move on.

And then, there are always the critics with baseless claims. The creative part of writing is very subjective, and it’s hard to truly make a case for whether a particular chosen word was a proper or poor choice. Creatively speaking, there is no right or wrong, only opinion.

But writing is also based in logic. They call this grammar. The structure of the sentences, the order of the words, the main idea and the arrangement of the paragraphs. There is most definitely a correct and incorrect way of doing things. If an old English pro comes by and points out a grammatical flaw in your writing, learn from it, fix it, and move on.

I think the key is to just keep fixing things and moving on.

Comment provided September 13, 2006 at 7:39 AM

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9
Dina writes:

Ohh, Chris, I love logical and rhetorical analysis. Yes, add that to the “logic” section of my previous tirade.

Comment provided September 13, 2006 at 7:43 AM

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10
Ed Howes writes:

I think Dina made a strong point about authoritative voice as was used in the beginning of this post. I read it and said not so for me and I suspected this was the case for the writer of the statement and possibly others with whom s/he discussed the matter. One can find their voice and style wuite early in the process and the technical improvements come with the practice. If we write stream of consciousness, we do need to go back and tend to structure if it is to be true to voice and style. Cut and paste then becomes such a huge blessing. Great phrases, sentences and paragraphs can be placed where they belong instead of where they popped up in the stream of consciousness.

Intention matters as well. The quoted writer was making the point it can take a lot of parctice to find our voice – style and no one can dispute the point when we consider how long we have been writing through our basic education and beyond. The person was also a harsh critic of their own early work. Many of us are more gtenerous with ourselves. As critical as Dina might be with herself, I doubt she sees mush of her earlier work as garbage from a voice – style perspective. Far better to say as Lance does, this could have been better. I don’t go back and fix my older stuff. It bears testimony of progress for the reader and potential writers.

Comment provided September 13, 2006 at 8:44 AM

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11
Ed Howes writes:

Dina,

I had a music teacher who would not allow anyone to say practice makes perfect without correction. He woul say “perfect practice makes perfect.” I believe this is closer to the reality. It is why Tiger Woods was willing to lose tournaments as he leaned to change his swing.

Comment provided September 13, 2006 at 8:52 AM

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12
Lance Winslow writes:

Good philosophy here and it brings back a couple of articles I wrote recently; One on Sales Training theories fro corporations where I write;

“Unfortunately, many companies do not have adequate sales training and if you fail to train your salespeople you are also training them to fail. This is because you are not correcting the mistakes they make and they are getting into the habit of making them continually. In fact their mistakes become habits that cannot be broken. Once this occurs even a robust sales training system may not be enough. They say; old habits die hard and it is true also in the sales training arena.”

And the other in Business Negotiation Category, where I have been explaining the use of Rhetoric. I discuss points of contentions from baseless perspectives. There is another good author here who discusses “logic” he talks a lot about “illegal immigration” and has some interesting perspectives of reality.

One thing I have found in sports, business, politics and even writing. That if you are training yourself, you had better be brutally honest, but perhaps we are our biggest critics. It is the easier path to hire a copyrighter, editor or an expert (safer too), but for those who take the path less traveled, well lets just say it is a very bumpy road, so beware. But I do believe the inner critic if you give it strength of character and consideration will follow you thru.

The good thing about training yourself is that you will find new innovative ways of doing things, which can hyperspace you past the norm. The bad thing is that when you hyperspace you anger your opponents, make bigger corrections, create change and cause severe disruption while making yourself a target, highlighting your mistakes and of course causing chaos and controversy along the way! I have accepted all these, have you? And do not answer so fast, but consider this in 2006.

Comment provided September 13, 2006 at 1:18 PM

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13
Lyle writes:

As a truly novice writer, the thought of having to produce a million words of garbage before finding ‚¬“my true voice‚¬ leaves me feeling foolish for publishing my crude material. In a sudden fit of insecurity, I ask myself, ‚¬“Should I grind out a million words of garbage and send it to the Recycle Bin before I publish another word?‚¬

Of course not! A writer’s ability to gain expert skills is determined by many variables. As I have learned from the excellent authors on this site, quality far outweighs quantity. I think all authors must find a writing process that fits the way their brain works before they can produce both quality and quantity work. Is the number of words it takes to find your writing voice really relevant? I hope not.

Comment provided September 13, 2006 at 1:38 PM

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14
Ed Howes writes:

Back to the point of sales training. This is the one profession where self training practically guarantees the failure. Once one has failed in sales often enough, one just leaves the profession altogether. I studied the subject well enough while trying the occupation, I decided I did not want to deal with the failure rate of a good salesman regardless of the rewards for success. I did not want to play the numbers game sales requires. I also realized the things I did not like were the main attractions for those better suited. It was easy to leave the work to them. The company which does not train its sales force is likely ruining the sales careers of perfectly capable people, by allowing them to fail frequently. Your point Lance, could easily be amplified to illustrate the damage done by ineffective sales training, as I see it.

Comment provided September 13, 2006 at 2:37 PM

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15
Lance Winslow writes:

In my company we had set up what I called my; Bonzai Scout Teams and Blitz Marketing Teams, sales was the key. We often burned people out and when we did not have our people trained they would burn territory and then burn themselves out too. And in our business model everyone who owned a car wash our customer so it was like fishing in a barrel with starving fish really.

Comment provided September 13, 2006 at 5:35 PM

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16
Ed Howes writes:

Lyle,

The experience of others need have no bearing upon you what so ever. The economy can sink like a stone and generate new millionaires on a daily basis. The two keys to success are desire and expectation. Want it, expect it and with patience you shall have it.

Comment provided September 14, 2006 at 7:58 AM

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17
Dominic Dirupo writes:

I feel a bit like Lyle. Should I spend time writing my million so I can bin it ? Or should I give it away to those more needy?

I feel happy with my current voice though it seems to switch when my themes change. Sometimes the voice can be really natural and others somewhat paternal.

Comment provided September 18, 2006 at 7:04 AM

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