Zestful Blog Post #183
When you’re writing original material—fiction or nonfiction—setting a word-count goal for your writing session is rewarding on a surface level, but also on a deeper, magical level you don’t understand until you do it.
Surface level is obvious: If you get words down, you’re writing; you’re making measurable progress. Whether your product is good or bad is, at this point, irrelevant.
Now for the deeper reward of chasing your word quota.
As you write, somewhere in the back of your mind is ‘Gotta make word count.’ That alone makes you really not want to cross stuff out, hesitate, choose one way to say something over another, cut off that rabbit trail you’ve been following because, enough.
You’re more likely to write deep into something, to not ‘keep moving forward’ but to linger on something you thought might be minor. Since I’m here and I really have to make word count before I can stop writing, I might as well keep going on this, drill down, because I’m already ON this vein of ore.
You’re more likely to experience flow.
Only when you’re sure you’ve exhausted that vein must you come up and figure out what might be next, or what could be next. And shift to that and write.
When you go back over that material, you might decide to keep or throw, but material written under word-quota pressure will have the greatest chance of containing something wonderful, surprising, totally cool: something you had no idea was going to appear, something you wouldn’t have wanted to miss for the world.
When you choose quantity over quality in the early going, you’re giving yourself WAY more chances to come up with something brilliant. It’s one of the great paradoxes of creativity! It’s Zen, it’s magic, it’s art!
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