There was a meme going around twitter for a bit asking how many complete novels (I think specifically the unpublished) writers had written. I didn’t know, and then put off collecting the statistics for two days because it was a lot of work, especially as I’d been through several computers and writing formats (google docs, word, yWriter, Scrivener, libre office, and now I actually have a git repository). But I’ve done it!
I’ve only been writing fiction for about a little over a decade, actually. I first started writing dribbles and drabbles partway through college, and didn’t pass 15k or so on a story until 2009. The past few years I haven’t been the most active writer, but I’m working on that.
So without further adieu, my statistics!
I have 15 complete drafts of 13 different novels totaling 2,052,460 words (3 of these novels are SciFi, the other 10 Fantasy of various sorts). The shortest complete draft is actually the one I just finished, at 83,099 words, and the longest is a chihuahua-smashing 233,536 words and features killer sand (it was very much not a serious novel and was written to be weird and have fun).
On top of that, I have another 24 drafts. Some are rather short, around 5k, but some stretch to almost 80k; all told, they account for about 400k more words. Most are other drafts of a story I’ve finished (written before or after – there’s no good pattern), but there are 5 novels in this list that I’ve never finished a draft of (my two horror novels, a scifi novel I will probably circle back to, and the rest fantasy).
And then there are three novels in my head that I’ve never written (one I probably never will), and one more that I could have sworn that I’d written a full draft of, but I can’t find it. But I remember how it starts and some of the events later on, and a lot of world building that it does that I piggie-backed off of for the one short story I’ve ever submitted anywhere (rejected), so either it exist(s/ed) or I’ve gone mental (50/50 shot there).
I have no real second drafts (I’ve done line edits on one), which at least makes those statistics easy to gather 😛
My hairball novel (working title: Blood Debt) represents an astounding percentage of this, all things considered. I wrote my first first draft in 2012, and finished my 3rd full first draft of it earlier this year (I have two more drafts of noteworthy length, and more than I want to count that are false starts). I’ve written 432,886 words trying to get this story right (almost 20% of the fiction I’ve written is this novel), and the best I can say is “fuck it, I can fix it in post”.
Well, now it’s post and I’m kicking myself for leaving out important threads and also kicking an important part of the novel to the second draft by just summarizing it. I’m working on editing it, (abysmally) slowly, and am hoping that this very public declaration of how long I’ve spent on this and how far I haven’t gotten will help shame me into working on it more. In my wildest dreams, I’ll get it out for the first round of beta reading by the end of the year, but honestly I’d be thrilled for it to be by my next birthday.
I’m not counting up my short stories, mostly out of laziness, but I have a few of those that I rather like.
So what about y’all out there in readerland? What do your writer statistics look like?