Monday, September 19, 2011

What's so shameful about productivity?

About a week or so ago, I ran across a comment that made me laugh. I'm not going to link to it because, well, they spoke in all earnestness as a guest in someone else's "house" and overt mocking would be mean. They were expressing reservations about the shift away from paper and towards electronic books, lamenting the fact that some authors now have to write a whole one-hundred and fifty thousand words per year in order to make ends meet via the indie route.

Yep. You heard me right. One-hundred and fifty thousands words per year, or three skin-of-your-teeth novels, or less than five hundred words a day. Now, I'm pretty obviously of the "yay indie!" camp over here, and I'm not quite sure where the poster was going with that line of thought, given that the royalties earned off of those one-hundred and fifty thousand words are going to be a lot fatter via the indie route. What I'm more interested in talking about today, however, is the idea that 500 words a day is some torturous goal that only the overworked, joyless writer who is more like a factory worker than an artist would attempt.

Well, fine, then. I'm a factory worker. I get up, I go to the job that pays me, and I write. Every day, and a lot more than 500 words, too. Does this make me a worse writer than someone who only puts fingers to keyboard (ah, the electronic age, now if we could just get rid of the rest of the Romantic illusions about writing, too) when muses flit down and dance about her head? I don't think so. Had I a book contract, I would still be writing daily quotas to hit deadlines. Now, I will grant that I'm lucky in that I don't have a second job or kids that nom up my time, but that doesn't mean that they aren't plenty of distractions to pull me away from my job if I allow them. Writing is a job, too. Put in your time just like you would at the place or places that cuts you regular paychecks.

I'll bet that within six months you'll be laughing at the idea that 500 words a day is supposed to be impossible without bullwhips cracking over your head and overdue electric bills being nailed to your door.

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