The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by J. T. SHEA » December 4th, 2010, 7:28 pm

There's words and there's words. James Joyce was a famously slow writer. One day a friend asked him how many words had he written that day. Joyce said four. The friend was taken aback, but said four was better than nothing. 'Yes,' replied Joyce. 'But I don't know what order they go in!'

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RedBrick
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by RedBrick » December 19th, 2010, 6:21 am

Another metric for the topic; in Malcolm Gladwell's
OUTLIERS, he posited that it takes 10,000 hours
to excel at any undertaking, hitting a fastball, cooking
the perfect souffle, writing software, or painting a landscape.

If a person doesn't have the talent or motivation to commit
10,000 hours to their passion they fall by the way side and
become accountants or lawyers. No, just teasing about those
noble professions. Really. Honestly.

A good high school baseball player won't end up in the Majors
because he can hit a high school fastball. Four years of playing
baseball in college, another five or six years in minor leagues, and he
might make it.

How many hours does he put in until he could hit a ML fastball?
What if he quit after 9,000 hours and went back home to work in
a garage?

A high school senior whose English teacher praises them as a
wonderful writer. Does he / she get on the NYT best seller list
because someone told her she has talent?

No, he / she must spend four or more years at university, another
five or six years working full time and writing at night and on
weekends to have something worth reading. Maybe.

How many hours did she / she commit to their passion?
Or did he / she quit at 9,000 hours and take up gardening?
Or gets a cat.

Jack Erickson
Author of PERFECT CRIME, short mysteries
and suspense novels published at Kindle and other ereaders.
Web site: http://www.jackerickson.com <http://www.jackerickson.com/>

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Guardian » December 19th, 2010, 8:27 am

If rewrite counts, I would turn to "professional", just alone with the final rewrite of my trilogy (As the entire trilogy, before the final trimming and rewrite, is app. 384k). But if not...

Let's see...
2 Computer Game script + 2 manuals (Both produced and published), 4 short scripts (1 produced and I've won one award with it), 22 episodes for a well known franchise (54 pages / each. It wasn't produced as the franchise was cancelled), 10 short episodes for my webseries (10 pages / each, On hold), some trailer scripts, 9 episode long mini series (90 pages / each, Under evaluation by a major movie studio thanks to a contact)... and finally this novel trilogy. So that's around 2-3 million or more. Hmmm, strange... where is my agent? Oh, wait. I don't have one.

Nope. Reaching a million word is not going to bring you any agent, not even close to it, even if you're produced, published and / or have a little award for writing and directing. Otherwise I should have two or three.

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Fenris » December 19th, 2010, 11:07 am

RedBrick wrote:Another metric for the topic; in Malcolm Gladwell's
OUTLIERS, he posited that it takes 10,000 hours
to excel at any undertaking, hitting a fastball, cooking
the perfect souffle, writing software, or painting a landscape.
Great book. I'd heard rumors of the 10,000 hour thing before I read it, but this book really drove the point home.

Guardian: I think the million-word thing is just a milestone, saying "past this point, you're considered able to write professionally." That doesn't really correspond to getting an agent -- that's got a lot more to do with luck than skill, though skill certainly helps get the job done.
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Guardian » December 19th, 2010, 11:09 am

Fenris wrote:
RedBrick wrote:Guardian: I think the million-word thing is just a milestone, saying "past this point, you're considered able to write professionally." That doesn't really correspond to getting an agent -- that's got a lot more to do with luck than skill, though skill certainly helps get the job done.
I know. ;) But personally I don't believe in luck. I prefer hard work instead.

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Watcher55 » December 19th, 2010, 11:12 am

Fenris wrote:Guardian: I think the million-word thing is just a milestone, saying "past this point, you're considered able to write professionally." That doesn't really correspond to getting an agent -- that's got a lot more to do with luck than skill, though skill certainly helps get the job done.
A grain of salt, if I may, in agreement with your observation. A very successful contracter friend of mine is fond of saying: "Luck is where opportunity meats preparedness."

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Fenris » December 19th, 2010, 11:40 am

Watcher55 wrote:A very successful contracter friend of mine is fond of saying: "Luck is where opportunity meats preparedness."
Yep. He (or she?) is right. Being on an elevator with an editor who asks you for a brief pitch is only lucky if you know what to say. I'd better get to work on that, actually...
Hi, my name's Fenris. I'm a thousand-year-old monster who's broken free to destroy the world. Your kids will love me!

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by J. T. SHEA » December 19th, 2010, 5:10 pm

Fenris, just stop the elevator between floors and hold the agent hostage!

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Guardian » December 19th, 2010, 7:25 pm

J. T. SHEA wrote:Fenris, just stop the elevator between floors and hold the agent hostage!
Tip of the day. :)

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Fenris » December 19th, 2010, 8:37 pm

J. T. SHEA wrote:Fenris, just stop the elevator between floors and hold the agent hostage!
That would have to be a really good pitch though, to cancel out their righteous anger. And then you'd still have to convince them to back you.

But I'll be honest. I laughed. :)
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by BetweenTwoWorlds » December 19th, 2010, 8:38 pm

J. T. SHEA wrote:Fenris, just stop the elevator between floors and hold the agent hostage!
Hilarious. I laughed out loud and didn't need an emoticon to be honest.
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WIP5: Finished, but hidden in a drawer
WIP6: 72k YA/MG. Working on 3nd edit.

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Mike Dickson » January 16th, 2011, 4:58 pm

I understand the concept, and it's probably accurate. However, can I just sit down and write about my day in a journal, or some made up thing with no plot, climax, or denouement? Or do I need to write a "real" story for the words to count? That's what I want to know.

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Fenris » January 16th, 2011, 6:08 pm

Mike, I'd say that anything can help, but the level of effectiveness might vary depending on the action. For example, if you were writing a kind of "practice chapter" or something, that would definitely help. Simply recording your day in a journal might not, or at least not as much--but condensing an entire day into a single journal entry might help build paraphrasing skills, which might help avoid infodumps in your work.

It's really hard to say what will help and what won't, because sometimes the changes are so minute we don't even recognize them--until a million words later, when we look back and see (hopefully) how much we've changed without realizing it.
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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Mike Dickson » January 16th, 2011, 6:18 pm

Fenris,
It was just a long shot hoping for the magic pill "just take this" type of thing. I tend to want to know the ins and outs of writing and make everything perfect or at the very least workable when I write. It actually causes me not to write. I'm working on it though.
When I think of it, I need a "just relax pill" er uh, not a quaalude, upper, or downer, mind you, but the magic pill. Ya got one?

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Re: The Million Word March to Becoming Professional

Post by Watcher55 » January 16th, 2011, 6:59 pm

Mike Dickson wrote:Fenris,
It was just a long shot hoping for the magic pill "just take this" type of thing. I tend to want to know the ins and outs of writing and make everything perfect or at the very least workable when I write. It actually causes me not to write. I'm working on it though.
When I think of it, I need a "just relax pill" er uh, not a quaalude, upper, or downer, mind you, but the magic pill. Ya got one?
You can rake the leaves cluttering up my yard; that's relaxing. >:}

Seriously, I think the concept here is practice, practice, practice; in this case, prose. In other words, by the time your work reaches a level of competence, your "trash" files will take up 10 to the power of 6 more kb than your actual completed work.

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