I've been copywriting for one of my dearest clients, Savvy Finance, for over a year and a half. Like every business reliant on technology, I back up. Everything. Once to the cloud and again on an external hard drive. Looking all the content I've written for Savvy, I've chalked up 330 articles at the time of writing. Without giving too much away, that's 138,600 words. That's over ten times as long as my master's thesis. The U.S. National Novel Writing Month sets a 50,000 word benchmark - and that's an entire novel. In essence, I've written 2 and a bit books' worth for that great company, and I'm happy to have done it.
So why can't we all write that book? Or at least, something of equal or greater length. It seems that I've already written a few "books" since I started my business all those months ago. Speaking from my own perspective...well, it's all about perspective.
Writing isn't a "supertask" but it can sure feel like it
Writing a book or a long-form piece can feel like a task that will take the better part of your life to complete. It's a supertask - a task which takes infinite time to complete. Sort of like writing down the history of your life in pinpoint detail. It can't be done.
Writing a book can, especially if you break it down into chunks. Or, don't even think about it like a book. A book I'm currently reading, Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard. It's based on his boyhood, growing up amid World War II in Shanghai. Delving deeper, it reads like a series of vignettes tied together by a common theme. Unconventional, but it works. It won him the James Tait Memorial Prize and a Man Booker Prize shortlisting for his efforts, too.
In your mind, talking is a form of action
Have you ever caught yourself thinking about sending a reply text to someone only to realise you haven't actually done it? Talking about doing things is a form of action in and of itself, although it produces nothing of value. Even subvocalising is a form of "action" for some people. A little less conversation and more action. In fact, this blog post is a product of that - I didn't just think about writing this blog post - I actually did it!
Writing long pieces is what other people do
What's the difference between you and a novel writer? The novel writer was once in your position, now they're published.
Writing isn't it's own reward
If you're writing for the celebrity and the riches, don't. Writing creatively is one of my "rewards" for a day's job well done. It's up there with exercising, cooking a tasty meal and hanging out with friends. Writing should be its own reward. Doing it for others seldom yields good results.
What is your experience with these sorts of writing tasks?