#AtoZChallenge: Q is for Quota



Writers are always short of time. Out of the twenty-four hours each day, we hardly have time to write anything significant. And even if we do, precious time is needed for research and revision. If we are lucky to have completed our manuscripts, then it is time to publish and promote. We as modern writers (read: authorpreneurs) are increasingly in control of the publishing process, but we have also become our own slaves.

Which is why networking is important. Yes, we all know this, but it takes time. Searching for suitable candidates for our writing and publishing team is a complex process. From choosing professional editor, cover designer and beta reader to selecting specific publishing formats and platforms — all of them are important tasks to undertake with one hundred-percent concentration and caution.

Thus time trickles away like powdered marble in that great hourglass that is life, one that can never again be inverted. Its design is cruel, for it allows us — forces us — to see how time disappears into oblivion, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

Particularly for writers like me, who need a good chunk of time to produce quality writing, our fragmented lifestyle is a pain in the backside. How can we think and write properly if we only have fifteen minutes here and half an hour there as the leftovers of our busy life?

I guess this is why the idea of “writing to a quota” is helpful — taking one step at a time and eventually we can cover a thousand miles. The idea is great, as long as we know what we are doing. Set up an outline and stick to it — an excellent way to exercise our self-discipline. It does work: I have done it before. It is a bit like vacuuming a house of twenty rooms or washing ten days’ worth of dishes in one go. We know the routine. As long as we keep at it, we will get there.

However, for writers like me, who enjoy and often rely on sudden bursts of inspiration for new twists and turns and even unprecedented characters to show up, a pre-determined outline does not and will never work. In my own case, each and every time I try to write to a quota per day, new ideas keep appearing, so I am inevitably plagued by the question of whether or not to stick to the outline. I can fill my daily quota and be done with it, or I can take that less travelled road in the woods and explore where no one has ever gone before. I almost always choose to be spontaneous, and the results almost always exceed my wildest imaginations. The problem? Alas, there goes the outline, closely followed by my daily quota. Writing resumes its chaotic pace and I start moaning again. Discipline? What discipline?

So, writing to a quota does not work for me. I continue to struggle to find time to write — which makes writing such a precious pleasure. How about you?


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