On writing

300,000 words and counting: 25 months of The Compartments

This Blog now contains over 300,000 words. Most of them are in Blog Posts, like this one. Around 24,000 words are contained in Menu Items, which you can find at the top of this page.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” according to a quote attributed to Lao Tzu. I have quoted it often, but wrongly attributed it to Mao Tse-Tung, as we called him in the 1970s. These days his name is usually transcribed as Mao Zedong (and that’s the first time I’ve typed his name that way). This journey to 300,000 words began on 2 December 2015 with two short pieces (combined length under 400 words). Barack Obama still had another 13 months to serve as President of the USA before leaving office in January 2017. The UK had not yet voted to leave the EU. David Bowie was still alive.

People who know me will not be surprised to learn that I keep a spreadsheet to record how many words and articles there are on these pages. The following information about each piece is stored in a simple table: Date Published, Title, Categories, Number of Words, Cumulative Word Count. It tells me the dates that the following milestones were reached: 100,000 words (5 April 2016), 200,000 words (21 February 2017), 300,000 words (today, with this piece, Blog Post #454). PivotTables analyze this data and summarize weekly and monthly word counts. March 2016 was the most prolific month: nearly 30,000 words published in 35 Blog Posts and one Menu Item. September 2016 was the least prolific month: just over 5,000 words in 11 items.

The most-used Category is Notes from West London: 105 pieces, over 63,000 words. Next is Word of the Week (72 pieces, 34,000 words) and then Memories (60 pieces, 45,000 words, with another 8 pieces and 4,400 words in the Memories Menu). Three other Categories have been assigned to 50 or more pieces: Trivia (31,500 words), Music (31,000) and Home Life (36,000). So, that’s what’s been on my mind these last 25 months, or at least that’s what I’ve been prepared to share with you.

All of these words have been published through WordPress, and I am very happy with it as a blogging platform. Thoughts of word count have led me to another WordPress site, Indefeasible, which lists the number of words contained in a sample of classic novels, here. It’s right up my street, and tells me that “War and Peace” (which I have still never read) contains 587,287 words. The average number of words per day published on The Compartments in the last 781 days is 384 (weekly average: 2,685). At that rate it will take me until 9 February 2020 to reach the same total as Tolstoy managed in one (admittedly very long) book. By comparison, Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” (which I first read in the 1970s) contains 46,118 words, and I reached that milestone on 17 February 2016, Day 77 of this Blog. In the intervening months I have published the equivalent of one of the following: five “Fahrenheit 451s”, four “All Quiet on the Western Fronts”, three “Catcher in the Ryes”, two “Wuthering Heights” or one “East of Eden”. And a partridge in a pear tree.



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