Do you set a quota when writing? Like…1000 words a day? 2000? 5000?

Personally, I think it’s a bad idea. For any number of reasons. 

1. I believe it hinders your quality. Be honest. What happens when you’re dog-tired and only made it to 900 words? Do you rest on your laurels and revive your spirit so that you can create that next stellar scene tomorrow, or do you just fluff up what you’ve already written with extraneous words to make your day’s quota?

2. I don’t know of any other career where someone works this way (artistic or not). Do painters say they’ll only quit after doing 1000 brush strokes a day? Can your veterinarian only go home after treating 50 pets a day? 

3. If you’re hiring a freelance editor, chances are good, you’ll overpay for services. Why? Because of what I said in reason #1. You’ve got a lot of extraneous words, which translates to extraneous pages, which translates to extraneous dollars spent by you.

4. What good are a lot of words if the story’s not great? Again, this kinda goes hand in hand with rule #1. I don’t care if it’s a full-length novel, a short story, or a clever limerick. As a general rule, writers don’t get paid by the word in book length fiction. So why does your every writing day hinge on a number?

Look, I get it. It’s a discipline thing. But here’s a novel (no pun intended) idea! Do what I do: Write Every Day. Some days, I’ll write a sentence. Other days, I write ten pages. No pressure to hit a quota. Write a sentence, write a paragraph, write a scene, write a chapter, write a book.  

Now, of course, lots of writers are going to disagree with me. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November, wherein authors attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in a 30 day period) fans are definitely going to take me to task on this post. 

But here’s the thing. If something works for you, go for it. Who am I to tell you not to? You like having a quota. Have a quota.

Today, I’m addressing anyone who feels inferior for not hitting a thousand words a day. Or doesn’t get the whole idea of writing to a “bar” they have to reach. I’m here to say, you’re not alone. And if you can’t make it work for you, don’t sweat it.

The trick is (and always has been) to find what works for you as a writer and stick to it!

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