Squeezing the Write Words by Catharine Bramkamp

Squeezing the Write Words by Catharine BramkampLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us “Squeezing the Write Words.” Enjoy!


A brief blog about the abundance of words. 

We all write in our journals. That’s how I start my day, rattling off ideas, adding to the to-do list. Meandering around paragraphs, tripping through weed-infested sentences.

I keep a running journal, a few years deep, and the other day, like finally checking the car odometer, I checked the word cumulation on my Scrivener program: 700,000 words.

Like walking 10,000 steps or practicing a new skill for 10,000 hours, I decided that 700,000 was close enough to a million to justify comment.  Like all the above numbers, they are irrelevant but certainly nice and round and easy to remember.

All that throat clearing is to say that it often takes a thick journal of words to create a small novel.

Your Write Words

Your Turn:

  • How many words are you writing?
  • Do you track your words in your journal?
  • Should you?

Why does word count matter, except to offer some pandemic bragging rights?

Casually mentioning that you just wrote a million words during lockdown is impressive.

You don’t need to admit that many of those words were very, as in I am very, very, bored and I really, really, really need to get out of here.

You don’t have to admit to the swear words or all the expressions that carried more angst when written in all caps.

No, don’t admit to them, count them certainly, confess nothing.

I Write The Words… in My Journal

  • What does this mean?
  • What is the takeaway?
  • Why does it take so many words, circling the point like a mandala or labyrinth to reach that clear central point?

I’m a fan of writing out ideas and concepts and even dialogue in my journal because it’s a place with low stakes – no one reads what I write or experiment with.

All those almost million words are little more than crumpled origami cranes, soaking wet watercolor paper, lumps of clay that never reached their dreams of a matched set of mugs.

All those words need to come out, certainly.

There are health benefits to allowing all that lumpen clay to emerge, squeezed out like a play dough press. We called it a machine, much sexier. It was a glorified garlic press, brilliant.

Anyway, we have all these words, particularly if we are female, and in a lockdown situation, there aren’t many places or persons on which to inflict, er, express those words.

Thus the million-word journal.

And from those million words can come a considerably smaller novel, a tiny blog, a brief poem. But even as an advocate for unmitigated creativity and experimentation, I was surprised at how much experimentation, just how many words it takes, and how many words to reject, before coming up with a finished project — a shiny perfect novel.

Certainly, some of our first thoughts could be our best, but most thoughts need a little later editorial help.

Back in the days of radio, on average it took an hour of work to produce a minute of on-air promotion.

It takes thousands of words to produce a haiku, tens of thousands of words to produce a blog, hundreds of thousands of words to circle back, and launch that 70,000-word novel.

Like counting steps, or checking the step counting app.

Creating words, writing words, getting around and around to finally land on the very idea you knew you had, but needed a path to reach them, is beneficial, even fun.

Certainly necessary.

How many words does it take to reach the book, blog, or poem goal?

How many words does it take to reach the book, blog, or poem goal?

Track it, see what it takes. 

Celebrate the process, because what is ultimately fun, is making all those words in the first place.

Want to be the queen to write the words?

Visit www.sonomahealingpress.com and learn how being the queen can help your book and your promotion efforts!


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Catharine BramkampCatharine Bramkamp is the co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast that focuses on newer writers and their concerns. She is a successful writing coach, Chief Storytelling Officer, and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, and The Future Girls series. She holds two degrees in English and is an adjunct university professor. After fracturing her wrist, she has figured out there is very little she is able to do with one hand tied behind her back.

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