Quotas and How to Avoid Them

All writers, irregardless of their age, where they live, or in what age they live in, hate and despise one question.

They hate this question more than any other on God’s Earth.

“How’s your writing going?”

How should I know?

I wish there were someone else that I could turn to, anyone, who could tell me how my writing is doing. There is no way to honestly answer the question to satisfaction.

What am I supposed to say?

“Well, I wrote a page on my novel yesterday. It took an hour. I spent the rest of the day doubled over by self loathing and eating ice cream.”

If I had a way to track how my writing is going, I would have already quit writing and joined a roller derby.

Or I would have finished my book by now.

How can I help it if my two writing modes are either: Poor Child Can’t Spell a Word, and Immortal Author Demigod.

It’s possible for me to write 5 pages in a day, but not for two consecutive days in a row.

In the days following my productive days, I’m lucky to speak coherent words.

Yesterday I asked an author friend of mine what is the typical speed that a writer should write at. She said the industry standard is about 1,000 words a day, although some write more or less than that.

That seems doable, doesn’t it? It might be, if I were to sell my soul to a metaphysical being of dubious character.

I try to write a thousand words a day, I really do. It rarely happens, but I aim for that.

On other days, I do my best to reach half of that, 500 words. Then there are the other days. The majority days. Those are the days that sink my spirit like a leaden Titanic.

On the normal days of my life, I live like most people. I do my work, I smile and say hello. I deal with crippling self doubt and anxiety. I buy cheese flavored snacks and go home. Then, when I get home, I try to counteract the emotions that have run willy-nilly with my soul. If I get myself feeling better, I think about how nice it would be to finally write something.

I might even write something tomorrow.

“Certainly not today. I feel too good to write right now.”

Here’s the point: I don’t care if you write 1,000 words a day, 500 a day, 10,000, or 2. But you need to write something. Anything at all.

Writing is not about doing something spectacular every day of your life.

Is your life made better and complete by a single day?

Good Lord, no. That would be horrible.

This is why a marriage should be about so much more than a single wedding day. A marriage is meant to last for a lifetime. To survive, it must be based on the everyday habits and actions of two people willing to make it work.

In the same manner, writing is not about something that can be done in a day, but of the habits and attitudes of a writer.

You don’t have to hit your quota goal every day. Maybe you need to readjust your goal so that it’s to write something every single day.


It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be insightful, and it doesn’t have to take the world by storm. It just has to be something you wrote for your own welfare. It can be something crappy, disjointed, and vague.

Like, for example, this post. 😉 -BW


3 thoughts on “Quotas and How to Avoid Them

  1. Wise words and a most excellent post.

    I had to keep checking to make sure I hadn’t written it. 😉 ha ha! I think you’ve been looking in my jumbled mess of a head. Good luck with the writing! (I won’t ask you how it’s going.)


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