Monday, May 30, 2011

The Power of the Quota

The idea of sitting down at your computer and writing the first draft of a novel—an entire 80,000 word (or more) novel—can be daunting. An obstacle so tall and formidable that you might be dissuaded from even starting. But I’ve got an easy-to-implement method that will help you get that draft written with a minimum of pain and suffering (oh, there will be pain and suffering, but this method will help keep you from pulling out all of your hair).

Just sit back and rely on the quota.

Here’s how it works. Take your end goal, say 80,000 words, and divide it by the number of days you have until your deadline. If you don’t have any kind of firm deadline, pick a number, like three months (sixty days—you get your weekends off!). Dividing 80,000 by 60 results in a daily quota of 1333 words per day. Why, you can knock that off in an hour and a half! (Okay, two hours, tops.) As a reward, once your goal is reached, you’re free to do whatever else you want that day (yes, even Facebook)!

If you hit your daily quota, then in three short months, you’ll have an 80,000-word draft of a novel.

Of course, then comes the fun part.


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7 comments:

Stephen Parrish said...

Dammit, you're supposed to tell me I can just sit and wait for the words to come. Dammit.

Alan Orloff said...

Steve - I was speaking about us mere writing mortals. You, my friend, can probably just sit and wait for the words to come flowing.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

This is exactly how I attack it. 80,000 words scares the hector out of me, but 2,000 a day five days a week is something I can manage. Usually. Don't hold me to it.

Hart Johnson said...

I tend to do mine by time rather than words, but ABSOLUTELY on breaking it into pieces. And that is totally how I do it for a WriMo (one of which I begin tomorrow)

Alan Orloff said...

Elspeth - Us writers know never to hold other writers to any firm quotas or deadlines. It's professional courtesy!

Hart - Time works, too. Good luck with NaJunWriMo!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Like a self-imposed NaNo? (Which really worked for me last fall.)

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm using the same method to schedule the revisions for my current WIP. It makes the big job seem a lot easier to divide it into weeks and chapters.