Games Writers Play #7: Write As Much as You Can in an Hour

Scott William Carter   March 2, 2010  

gwpI personally believe that setting word or page quotas is much more effective than time quotas. This is mostly because if you tell yourself you’re going to sit in the chair until you’ve written a thousand words, you’ll find your fingers leaping into action much faster than if your fingers know that all you have to do is sit in the chair for an hour to call it a success.   (I realize we’re attributing a lot of independent brain power to those fingers, but bear with me.)   But I know that word quotas just don’t work for everyone. Some people find themselves freezing up if they know they have to write a certain number of pages.

I still can’t quite recommend just saying “write for an hour,” because that goes against some of the basic writing principles that I believe — that writing faster is generally better, that anything you can do to encourage yourself to write faster is helpful in keeping ahead of your critical voice.

So here’s a variation that works for me: Write as many words as you possibly can in one hour, and then track your progress.

Or thirty minutes. Or fifteen minutes. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to start with less time and work your way up.  Maybe you start by writing 250 words in an hour. Then it goes up to 500. Soon it’s 750. Rather than focusing on something you can’t control — why a particular story or novel hasn’t sold, etc. — you’ll have a measurable way to evaluate your success in an area you can control.  And that’s definitely a good thing.

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