When you’re in writing mode, do you follow a word quota, a time quota, or do you just wait for your muse to arrive, words in hand?
If I waited for my muse to arrive, I’d be a very old man before I’d have anything written. (My muse must be named Godot.)
When I’m in writing mode, I follow a strict word quota. Here’s my process:
With my premise already in mind, I take about a week before I actually begin writing to formulate an outline (not very detailed) and complete character sketches of the main characters. Then I determine when I want to finish my first draft, and divide by the number of writing days until that deadline (usually I plan to write five days a week).
That gives me my daily quota. When I first started writing and didn’t have any other writing-related tasks (promoting, blogging, Minesweeper, procrastinating, answering emails, etc.), I’d usually settle on a 2000 word/day quota. Now that I have other
junk very important marketing and promotion things to do, my quotas are usually somewhere between 1000 and 1500 words per day.
Some days, if the writing is like shoveling sludge, I’ll get up the instant I reach my daily goal, even if it’s in the middle of a sentence.
After I’ve attained my quota, I’ll move on to other things (and I’ve got no shortage of other things on my to-do list).
Once in a while, life gets in the way and I don’t reach my daily quota. That’s what weekends are for—catching up.
The great thing about his method is that I know, with a great deal of certainty, if I meet my daily goals, then when I reach my deadline, I’ll have a complete first draft. Something else I know with a great deal of certainty? The manuscript will smell to high heaven, but at least I’ll have a first draft I can carve to pieces.
Muse? I don’t need no stinkin’ muse.
I’ve got BICFOK.