I’m a stat nerd, so to be honest, I’m not sure why I haven’t done this before. It all started with a simple question I had the other day:
How much have I really written in my journals?
It wasn’t the sort of question that has no answer or is not quantifiable, it was a very clear and direct question that I knew I could find the answer to. I turned to the tool that I have become oh-so-familiar with as an aspiring engineer- a spreadsheet.
Now I must be clear on a few points. First of all, I didn’t count every word in my handwritten journals. Time doesn’t grow on trees! Instead I took an estimation based on words per page and how many pages (each journal has the same number because they are the exact same type of journals). While the actual numbers may fluctuate a little, I think my numbers are not far off from reality.
Also, note that the journals I kept when I was a kid are at my parents house and are not included in this. This is okay though because most of them were written out of duty and probably would have only contributed a few thousand or so words to the total.
These numbers also do not include all of the other writing I have done over the years including books, blogs and emails. This is just personal and private journal numbers.
So those asterisks aside, I have written (around) 371,193 words in my personal journals since August 1999.
Sound impressive? Well, it isn’t really. In fact, several of you have emailed me and mentioned that you have been writing in journals since well before I entered this world.
I mean, it is a lot, but not really in the context of other efforts. For example, if I was writing the Harry Potter books I would be about half way through the 4th one. If I was writing the Bible I wouldn’t even be half way finished. The novel I wrote a few years back is around 92,000 words which is fairly long these days.
It would be more interesting if I were able to know how many entries and how long each of them are. This would allow me to know the word count by month and year, which would be telling. It would also be nice to see how many pictures I have included in my digital journals. A more detailed version of this report may happen in the future.
However, the surprising part to me was the breakdown between words that were handwritten and the digital ones I have been writing for the past several years. (blue is handwritten and green is digital)
If you are a stat nerd like me, you can see the full spreadsheet at the link below:
I also want to start giving an accountability for how much I am writing every month in my journal. This may or may not be interesting or helpful to you (let me know in the comments if you feel passionately either way) but I know that it will at least hold me accountable and help me do better. Here is my April report.
You can see the breakdown entry by entry in the spreadsheet link above. As you can see, my word count is all over the place with the low being in the 40’s and the high being nearly 2000.
I’m not arguing that this is the perfect way to journal but it is the way that works for me. I hope that you will find the way that works best for you. My goal for May is 4000 words. Stay tuned for next months report to see if I make it!
I also want to note that some of you may be thinking about the ‘private’ part of journaling that I always talk about. You may not be comfortable sharing how many words you write in your journal, and that’s fine. I personally am but I would never share what is actually written in the entries. That’s my personal line.
Note- I wrote this post in early May but had to back date it a week or two for blog organization. Sorry if it is confusing!