The Quota System

They say that, in writing, you should steal from the best. Or, failing that, whoever’s convenient. Like, say, John Scalzi.

I made a little headway on the book-in-progress over the weekend, which is nice. The problem is, the words I wrote on Saturday were the first new text generated since Tuesday the previous week. Not the one four days earlier, the one the week before that.

This is obviously unsustainable if I’m going to finish the book-in-progress in finite time, so I am, effective immediately, copying John’s writing quota system: No Internet for me on any given day(*) until I write something on the book. I don’t have a hard target in terms of number of words yet– that’ll take a little experimentation– but I’ve got to get something down on the current draft before I’m allowed to read blogs, Twitter, Facebook, the Stack Exchange, or non-work-related email.

What does this mean for you, the reader? The effect probably won’t be all that obvious, as I’m not terribly interactive as bloggers go– I’m really bad about responding to comments, or getting in active conversations on Twitter– and I already make liberal use of the “schedule post” feature of my blogging software– this very post, and the gratuitous toddler picture post immediately before it were written late Sunday night, and scheduled to post Monday morning. I’ll probably use this even more to space out non-time-critical posts so the content distribution is a little more even. So, you might not necessarily notice whether I’m meeting quota or not in real time.

But something’s got to change, and this seems like a simple bright-line rule that I ought to be able to stick to. We’ll see how it goes for the next couple of weeks, and eventually settle on some sort of word count threshold, or something like that.

(*) The start of a day for these purposes is defined to be the start of my 9am class– that still lets me maintain my wake-up routine of reading blogs and Twitter over breakfast. Because I get grumpy when my morning routine is disrupted.