I find it really hard to say exactly when everything started and how much I have done as a writer.
The first novel I ever wrote I started several years ago, maybe 5 or more years ago, I can't remember the date exactly. I knew I wanted to be a writer then, but I didn't yet understand that writing meant doing it regularly. Sometimes I'd skip a month or two and then suddenly write several chapters in a forty-eight hour period. I finished the first draft, but didn't edit it to its completion. I learned a lot from the draft and wound up trashing it because it was so poorly written.
Sometimes I count this as the point I started writing, but sometimes I don't, because at the time I wasn't working on my writing every day like I do now. I never know whether or not to count it as a novel I wrote because I didn't finish editing it and wound up trashing the whole thing.
Around 3 years ago was when I started to write every day. I started a new novel that I called Spirit Speaker that I finished and queried for, but was rejected. I also wrote a short story about a ghost that was rejected by a couple of magazines that I submitted it to. I know these count because I submitted them, but what about all the random scenes I've written for other possible novels in the future. What about the short stories I haven't completed? And the novels I am still working on?
Also, I wrote a story about a homeless girl and a romance novel with intentions of them becoming full length novels, but right now, with their first draft done, they are only the length of a novella. Usually when I go through second and third drafts , I add tens of thousands of words by the time I am finished, so they may become a novel eventually. What do I count them as?
So people who ask me how long I've been a writer and how much I've written, they get some variant of this answer: 3/5 years, I've written 1/2/3/5 novels, 2 novellas?, a few short stories, and a million outlines. I wish I could get it straight so I could tell everyone the same answer.
Does anyone else have this problem? Was becoming a writer such a gradual thing for you that you don't know how to answer the question about WHEN you started to write?
And in what part of the process of writing a novel or short story do you count it as something you have written? I'm editing my second?/third? novel but it isn't done.
I know some people count the amount of time they've been writing as being the same as the amount of time since they wrote their first story ever. If that's the case then I've been writing since I was nine, but I don't think that's correct either.