In a previous life, I was an Administrative Assistant. Give me a spreadsheet, and I can make data sing. I’m also obsessive. So it was just a matter of time before I started putting my word counts on a spreadsheet.
In March, I started tracking not just the words I write, but also the words I work with. Which proved to be enlightening. For a while now, I’ve had a theory about why I don’t write as much as I’d like to. My spreadsheet finally proved it.
Eighty percent of the words I deal with every day are somebody else’s. Only three percent were my own creative writing. Three lousy percent.
Every morning (at least most mornings), the first thing I do after waking is write in my journal. I’ve learned that keeping a journal is vital to my mental and emotional health. It’s where I blow off steam, where I process things, where I gripe and complain, where I indulge my insecurity and my ego, and where I take some time to take care of myself.
After my journal, it’s rush rush rush. Get the kids fed. Get lunches made. Prep dinner. Go to work. Go to meetings. Go to doctor’s appointments. Read other people’s words. By the end of the day, I have nothing left for my own words.
So for April, I’m trying something new. I’m waking up an hour earlier. Writing in my journal still comes first, but immediately after that, it’s now time for my words.
In the two days since I put this into practice, I have already increased my personal word count by 500 words over my personal word count for the entire month of March.
My overall word count is still dominated by other people’s words. That may never change, because that’s what I do for a living. I used to wrangle data from nine to five and work with words in my free time. Now I wrangle words from nine to five and work with data in my free time. But now I’m getting my own words in first.