Limit.

Aug. 23rd, 2013 10:25 am
coniferous_you: (Stop! Lizard ahead!)
[personal profile] coniferous_you
The other day a friend of mine asked me what I thought was the best method of finishing a big writing project. She has a friend who has trouble finishing things, but "wants to write."

I told her that having some kind of quota was important, but that I thought a word quota was the best.

"But why?" she asked.

Well, the writers I know seem to use one of four different kinds of quota:

There's the time quota. The people I notice using this are either super-busy, or just getting into writing. Kind of like how people just getting into running aim for time, not distance. The problem is that it's very easily cheated, especially by people who haven't yet become self-motivated in writing. It isn't that hard to "wait out the buzzer" and sit in a haze for the last thirty-minute stretch of your two-hour writing quota and feel accomplished.

Some people use the page quota. I'm not even sure where this comes from, as it's even more easily cheated than the time quota. It's easy enough to aim for, say, ten pages a day and then write nothing but stuff like:

"She came into the room and said, 'I love you.'

He replied with something inaudible.

Then, silence."


Another one I've seen is the milestone quota, whereby the writer sets a daily limit of one plot point/chapter/significant block of text. I actually think this is a great method. My only problem with it is that it's really sort of the master class of quotas, and probably best attempted by people who actually plan their manuscript in advance.

The word quota seems most logical because it is accessible and difficult to cheat. Sure you can write "I don't want to write this" over and over to fill the quota, but that ultimately gets old pretty fast. You're still going to be stuck with words that you can mostly use, if only to scaffold later drafts.


Because no writing is ever wasted.
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