Word ceilings

Re-reading my own blog. Is that what they call whistling in the dark?

At any rate, I realized I’d said something about word ceilings, and then didn’t mention them again. I want to say this was a clever way of conning you into continuing to read. I could have. I should have. But now I’m admitting I just forgot.

So word ceilings.

Max Barry was the first author I’d heard of who suggested setting a cap on the number of words you’d write in a day. The idea was that you’d set it low enough that you wanted to keep writing, so you’d spend the night itching to get back to that scene and those characters, and attack the keyboard each day as if it was something fun, as opposed to drudgery and work. You didn’t have to hit the ceiling, you could write nothing, although you still had to sit at the desk a bit and at least try to get something out. But after that you could leave, and try again tomorrow. Minimal but existing pressure.

The alternative is the word minimum, which I have also done. In this model you always wrote some minimum amount of words, and couldn’t leave the keyboard until you hit it. Maximum and relentless pressure. I’m sure this works for some, if not for many. It just doesn’t work for me. Then the writing feels like work, and wasn’t the whole point of this to get away from work?

Regardless, word ceilings were great, and I almost always hit mine. Full credit to Max Barry for this stupendous idea.

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