Six Hundred Words a Day

One of my clearest memories from elementary school comes from the first day of fifth grade. My teacher asked us all to write something about ourselves on a strip of manila-colored cardstock; these statements would be posted on the back wall along with a picture, a sort of who’s-who-in-class board. On my cardstock, I wrote that I “want to be an auther someday”. The next day, my teacher pointed out the spelling mistake. “The first step to becoming an author is learning how to spell it!”

I’ve learned to keep a dictionary on my desk since fifth grade, but the root of my statement remains the same almost ten years later: I love to write. It’s the way I express myself, the way I relax, and the way I process things that require deep thought. While others see it as a chore, I see it as a therapy. It literally keeps the doctor away, bearing in mind that shrinks are doctors too.

Today’s technology-obsessed society is kind to writers. Word processors have functions – especially word count, an incredibly useful little tool – that make written work almost too easy to produce. The internet has allowed writers to congregate in forums and chat rooms, some of which are quite large.

But the most useful computer program out there, in my humble opinion, is Microsoft Excel. I was forced to learn how to use Excel in high school, and I’m grateful that I did, because I use it all the time now. Around Christmas, I started an Excel file to keep track of my word count per day – the number of words that I wrote or typed each day, excluding mandatory schoolwork. I set a goal for two hundred and fifty words a day. Sometimes I ended with northward of a thousand words, and sometimes I barely reached one hundred. According to Excel, I averaged about six hundred words a day over a fifty day period. That’s nowhere near the average for full-time published authors, but for I don’t think it’s bad for a punk freshman econ major.

About a week ago, my mother suggested that I start a blog. I hit myself in the head for not thinking of that beforehand. But it took me a long time to actually start the thing because I was hung up on what to write about. After all, most successful blogs are focused on one topic and are written by an “expert” (define that how you wish). So I started to look back through my writing from the past few years. It was kind of a mixed bag of good, bad and ugly. Some of it was fiction, some of it was scholarly, a diary entry every once in a while, but nothing consistent enough or appropriate for a blog.

Looking through my files, it occurred to me that no matter what I wrote or continue to write, it’s better to put something down on the page than put nothing at all. That’s the function of this blog: to write something. Anything. I figure that the only way to improve on my craft is to practice. I grabbed the number six hundred off of that Excel chart, and that’s my new goal. I won’t always make it, and hopefully I’ll overshoot it every once in a while.

I don’t know if I still want to be an author in the traditional sense. I’m writing a book for the fun of it, and I don’t know what I’m gonna do with myself when I finally finish it. I have a hundred other daydreams for my future, some of which have already been ruthlessly shot down but many of which are still options. We’ll see. In the meantime, there’s nothing that can keep me from putting out six hundred words a day – if not for anyone else, then for myself.

Word Count: 643

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