Milwordy: Which Words Count?

In the previous post, My Milwordy Declaration, we discussed what this challenge is: One million words in a year. Now you might be asking yourself, what kind of words count toward the final goal? Drafts? Edits? Texts? Emails? Tweets? If I type out the phrase “She let out a breath she didn’t even know she was holding” 83,334 times, does that count?

I mean, I would get really, really fast at typing out a top YA cliché. So that’s something.

Everyone participating has to make the decision of what to count and what not to count for themselves based on what they hope to accomplish. Since everyone’s goals are different, everyone’s Milwordy will be different.

For me, the idea of writing a million words is not so much about the end products of a million written words and supersonic typing skills. It’s to improve my prose through practice. Tweets and Texts? Probably not going to help me much so I don’t plan on counting them. Not to say that those aren’t an art form in themselves, they just aren’t the areas I want to focus on. I want to improve my fiction.

That’s why I’ll be counting fiction drafting words and any prewriting that is narrative in nature. If say, I write a little vignette that is part of a character’s backstory, but will not be included in the draft, I’m counting that because it gives me practice at prose. If I’m writing a scene synopsis, that also counts. But if I’m making a list of character traits or settings or plot points, for example, those aren’t doing much to improve my actual writing so those don’t count.

Revision is a little trickier for me. If I’m writing a completely new sentence, that definitely counts. But if I’m just tweaking an existing one, does that count? Kind of…maybe?

I’m still working out some of the kinks. But I’m nowhere near starting on revision, so I figure I’ll stumble over that bridge when I get there.

Oh, and I’m also counting these blog posts because, although they are not fiction, I do think they will help with my overall writing skills.

So those are my own personal rules. Have you figured out your own yet? I’d love to hear about it!

Published by Robin J

I’m an aspiring novelist who hasn’t quite figured out this whole writing thing. I’ve been scribbling down stories since I was a little kid, but only dared to dream that I could write something worth reading as I became an adult. At 33, I still feel like I have a lot of progress to make before I’m ready to try publishing, but I’m getting better every day. Typically I write Fantasy (of both the Adult and YA varieties), but I have dipped my toe in Romance and Sci-Fi. When coming up with a story to write, all I care about is that the plot grabs my attention and the characters tug at my heartstrings. The genre is an afterthought. I tend to set myself lofty goals. Mostly I fail, but occasionally I surprise myself and succeed. Either way, I enjoy being pushed beyond the limits of what I thought I could do. That’s what I’m hoping to accomplish with the Milwordy challenge. I may or may not reach the full million words, but I know I’m going to learn a lot along the way. I hope you will, too!

2 thoughts on “Milwordy: Which Words Count?

  1. Mam, I have a doubt. Before editing or redrafting, we have to revise the novel thoroughly. Can revision words be included in the milwordy. At present, I am just adding only my editing words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that everyone has to figure out which words to count for themselves. Ultimately, Milwordy is a personal challenge. There are no official judges that are going around checking to make sure you’re counting the right words toward your final tally. You have to decide based on what your own personal goals are.

      If you go to YouTube and search for Milwordy, you will find many different people talking about which words they are counting. For everyone it’s different. That’s okay. Everyone’s goals are different.

      For me, I only want to count new words I’ve written. That can mean revised words, but only if they’re new. For many others, they are counting all of their revision and editing words, even if they aren’t new words per se. That’s totally valid. After all, if you rearrange a sentence, even if you haven’t technically put any new words in, it’s still sort of new, isn’t it? It’s still work you’re putting in toward your writing. That’s just not how I’ve chosen to go about it.

      For me, obviously I’m counting all my first draft words. That’s easy enough. My revision word count gets a little trickier. I could individually count every single new word I put on the page, but that would be a very slow process, and this challenge is already taking up a lot of my time. The way that I’ve been doing it so far is a bit quicker, but it’s not perfect.

      As an example, let’s say I have a 1,000-word scene to revise. Because I am an under-writer (meaning that my first draft is always a little sparse and lacking a lot of details), my first revision pass will inevitably involve adding new words to the count. So, when I’m finished with that first pass, I look at the word count. Let’s say there are now 1,200 words in the scene. That means I’ve added 200 new words and so I add 200 words to my Milwordy tally.

      I say this isn’t perfect because I’m not just adding words during revision. I will also have subtracted some words. If, in that 1,000-word scene, I deleted 100 words and still end up with 1,200 in the end, that means that technically I wrote 300 new words.

      1,000 original words + 300 new words – 100 deleted words = 1,200-word revised scene. Subtract the original scene words (1,000) from the revised scene words (1,200) to get how many new words I’ve added (200).

      Because I wasn’t counting as go, 100 of those words don’t get counted in my final tally. I’m basically cheating myself out of words, but that’s a trade off I’m willing to make so that I don’t have to count them individually. This may not be acceptable for everyone, in fact, for people that are over-writers (people who will likely shrink their scenes in revision) this method wouldn’t work at all. That’s why I say that everyone has to figure out their own way to count. Check out how other people are counting their words for inspiration and see what works best with your goals.

      I’m sorry this response is so long. Maybe I’m not such an underwriter after all!

      Thanks for the comment and I hope, no matter how you decide to count your words, you are enjoying the Milwordy experience!


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