Moravia, 200 lines a day

This is the absolute truth:

And it’s also why I get so worked up when people suggest that inspiration/the muse/call-it-what-you-like is a better “method” for creativity than setting yourself targets and quotas. There is no substitute for hard work, no matter how inspired or talented you may be.

The only method that works for writing is Butt-In-Chair. Sit down and write. If you don’t write, you can’t be a successful writer.

Now to become good at it, that takes something else: practice. Which means more Butt-In-Chair time.

I sense a theme. :open_mouth:

Or, to quote (I believe somebody here had it as their sig for a while): “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up.”

No u-turn just simple logic.

The drawback to a Wordd Count Quota is if you hit a situation that is leading you to wanting to end your writing session (it is getting very late for example) and you haven’t reached your goal or you haven’t been reacing it for weeks (say only writing about 1,200 words a night instead of the goal of 3,000) then you are presented with a situation where you can either (a) FAIL again and not reach your goal (b) lower you expectations by lowering your word count amount (c) just write an idea your unsure of but may use to fill the space (d) start “padding” sentences and overly describing things in order to increase the word count.

Of course every noble person will say “I will let myself fail and not reach my goal before I write any filler”. But we all know that in human nature that is not the case. You will lie to yourself and slack up a tad on what you feel is “allowable” writing and excuse it by saying something like “This is only the first draft or I can fix this later, etc.” This will happen because reaching and achieving the goal is a higher priority than quality because quality of the wrods you choose or how you use them is not the goal. The total amount of words you use is.

Human nature. You will write filler to achieve that goal because reaching the goal by using “filler” is more acceptable than failing the goal completely.

And of course any writer would not likely admit that they may fudge at times and write a little “filler” to pad the word count in order to reach their own goal they imposed upon themselves. Just like people do not like to admit how often they will tell a lie or “cheat” at something in some small way.

But in reality if your “discipline” is a word count then your quality control and efficeny rating is based on how fast you type and not what you write.

Word count Quotas started out as LIMITERS or guidelines for Newspaper/Magazine article submission as a guideline to LENGTH in order to fit copy. Nothing more.

Also as antony pointed out once you make the shift to a RB of “Creative Function Mindset” then the quota actually becomes quite useless and ignored anyway.

A time allotment discipline (Like Rochefore presents) is one that gives the same discipline but does NOT reward quantity over quality. It keeps you in your chair writing but you have to maintain self discipline and stay focused BUT it does not encourage you to lower your excaptabliity of what you will allow as quality nor does it encourage to just “write anything” but rather it encourages you to stay at the task at hand. At the end of the time allotment if you only wrote 50 words you only wrote 50 words but you still achieved your goal of sitting and trying to make progress on your writing. You reach your goal and maintain your quality AND still maintain the discipline of staying on task WITHOUT giving yourself a single excuse to “fudge” a little and toss out some filler that you know deep down you will not use. By NOT writing known “filler” you cut down on the amount of time you have to spend on the editing/rewriting at a later time.

A Word count quota is more for newspaper/magazine column writers etc that are restricted by space and also have very short deadlines. For a creative writer the Word Count Quota serves only one purpose and that is as a crutch to help the writer transition form a logic mindset to a creative mindset but do it in a way that reassures the logic side that allowing complete illogic to rule the day is actually ok because once the goal is met (quota) things will return to “normal”

So far the Quota does this for a writer
(a) Encourages you to write filler and lower your quality control.
(b) Increase the amount of time you will have to spend rewriting and editing the first draft.
(c) Uses a logical mindset to try to encourage a creative mindset function which can be achieved using easier and more productive methods.
(d) Is a limiter rather than a goal. It is telling you “You ONLY have to write 3,000 words”. Time based tells you “You only have to write for X amount of time” It does not limit your progress on the time you allocate to the task(s)
(e) It becomes useless once the shift to creative mindset functions (RB) occurs. In order to "check on your progress you have to switch back to Logic Mindset Functions (LB) in order to check and comprehend the status of where you are in relation to your goal or “finish line”. This means you are switching to and from Creative mindset to Logic Function Mindsets rather a more efficient method that would keep you in the Creative mindset until the task is done (using an alarm clock that is hidden)
(f) It will tell you how much “substance” you need to fill a previously decided space or how much space you have left to help determine the direction your writing may need to take in order to fulfill a Word Count Quota.
(g) It will force you to sit down and complete the task at hand and give you an accurate measure of your immediate progress.

So no. Not a U-Turn. Yes it can and does work for some writers. But Also using a brick as a hammer to drive a nail in works and might be good for driving in a single nail but it would be really inefficient to try to build a house using a brick as a hammer.

A time allotment (Alarm clock) does this for a writer.
(a) does not influence the quality you determine you wish to allow for your writing and does not encourage “adjusting” the level of the quality in order to achieve the goal.
(b) By not degrading the quality of your writing in the first draft you will have higher quality material to work with when you are editing. This cuts down on the amount of editing and rewriting a writer may have to face in the next draft.
(c) Allows you to use any mindset, multiple mindsets, or even different mindsets to achieve reaching a Creative Mindset. (More flexible in the tool(s) used to reach your inner creativity)
(d) keeps you from switching mindsets and keeps you in a creative function mode which means you stay in the Creative mindset LONGER and less interrupted.
(e) Does not limit the amount of work based on quantity but rather measures time allocated to the project giving the flexibility in length and progress based on time spent rather speed writing it.
(f) works well with tight or flexible schedules during a person’s life but still allows the goal to be obtainable based on the person’s real life and time alloted for that individual session. (ie. you can only write 30 minutes one day because of a wedding but you can invest 4 hours on another because you are free that day)
(g) It will force you to sit down and complete the task at hand and give you an accurate measure of time you have invested in working on a project.

The “quota” is told to many as the way to do things.

I also still hear people telling people to “double space” after a period when they are typing and that is the “standard” as well also.

Sorry for the lengthy Novel. Each to their own and what works works but sometimes I like to ask myself things like

“Does this really work for me or do I think it works for me because I am told it works for me?”

I have yet to see any project in my lifetime that was Quota Based Project come out with the better quality and craftsmanship than a Time Based Project.

One is the mentality of the “assembly line” the other is the mentality of “hand made quality”. Both are sellable. Or in car analogies:

One is a Ford Focus the other a Lamborghini.

Ford may sell 50,000 Ford Focus in a year and that is great. A lot of money was made.
Lamborghini might sell 500 Diablo’s in a year and that is great. A lot of money was made.
Ford uses a QUota based system where quantity is highest priority.
Lamborghini uses a time based system where quality is highest priority.
In the end though which one is more rememberable to the driver? The Focus or the Diablo?

All killer, no filler.

In the end, there are no rules. This is the scary and wonderful part about creative work.

Any advice, be it from a book or this forum, only gets you so far. Then you are left on your own in the wilderness.

You have to get to know yourself, find out what works for you and what doesn’t – and always be ready to throw it all into the dustbin and start anew.

And then, unbelievably, you are done. After all those months of confusion and determination, of exhilaration and despair, the thing sits there on your desk, finished. You look at it in amazement. Can this really be true? Yes, it can! And you are the happiest man on earth.

Very very true. :slight_smile:

Sigh. Once again, Wock, I have to ask in all seriousness how many writers you know, or how much writing you’ve done yourself. Because, honestly? It sounds like you’re theorising over something which you have little to no experience in.

Not if they’re a pro, they won’t. Pros know full well that when they’re writing a first draft they’re writing lots of filler, in order to get the story down and out of their heads. Hence, the second/revision draft.

Perhaps writers simply aren’t noble people. I could believe that :wink:

Nonsense. If they were ‘just typing’, they could write 20,000 words a day. Nobody (sane) has a quota that high.

This appears to be what you’re having trouble understanding, actually - writers set themselves quotas based on what they know they can achieve. They’re not impossible goals that force people to type like madmen in order to make the quota in time.

Or, encourages you to keep writing instead of getting stuck on a single phrase or scene that you can come back and edit later, which is certainly the most common reason for stalling that I know of.

This is why I wonder how much writing you’ve done yourself. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you think your first draft is while you’re writing it, when you come to revise you will find things you want to change. This is an immutable, unavoidable fact. No first draft is ever perfect, no matter how much time you take over it.

Such as? The only viable alternative here is a time quota instead of a word count quota, but if you sit in the chair for eight hours and write nothing then I wouldn’t call it very effective.

[EDIT TO ADD: I’m not saying everyone who uses a time quota does that. Just pointing out that to say it’s an inherently better method is absurd.]

Utter, utter nonsense. My earlier point about losing yourself in the writing once you get going, and forgetting all about word counts etc., speaks precisely to this point. If you can put yourself in the ‘flow’, you will almost always discover that you’ve written more than you intended when you sat down.

A word count quota is a minimum, and everyone who uses it understands that. If your quota is 3000 words and you write 4500, you still have to write 3000 the next day. That’s just basic writing method.

Except nobody does this. See above. The only time you check is when you come out of ‘flow’, and by that time you’ve almost certainly surpassed your quota. And if you haven’t, well, then you resume. And once again, check only once you come out of flow.

These are bad things how, exactly?

Many writers, actually. And contrary to your spurious “use a brick to build a house” analogy, the vast majority of them find it produces great efficiency.

This implies a word quota is somehow an old and outdated method. It makes no sense.

Which is a great attitude to have, but if you ask such a question you must be prepared to accept the answer. And as this thread has shown, the majority of respondents will tell you that the method you think doesn’t work… works.

With regard to writing, how would you even know?!

Another very spurious analogy that makes no sense.

Right, sorry, but I’m going to have to stop responding here. Partly because I’m away for a long weekend to visit family and friends, but also because it’s evident that you refuse to accept what the people here, with their combined and significant experience in a multitude of fields, are telling you. Sorry.

Yes, I will. I DON’T CARE.

That’s the critical point that you are missing. My first drafts suck. I know they suck. I DON’T CARE. No one sees my first drafts.

And you know what? Since I embraced their awfulness I have become more productive, more financially successful, and happier. Once I have an awful first draft, I can turn it into a pretty decent second draft and a killer third draft. Without an awful first draft, all I have is a blank page.

It’s funny, though. Once I embraced word count rather than quality as the first draft goal, my drafts started getting better. They’re still awful, but they’re usually at least coherent now. Amazing what practice will do for you.

I don’t think you know human nature as well as you claim. Let’s say someone works four hours a day for five days and only gets 50 publishable words per day. That’s 250 words by the end of the week, and 20 hours of their life gone.

Meanwhile, I spent about an hour a day filling my 1000 word quota. In a bad week, I’ll have to throw half of those away. Still, at the end of the week I’ve got 2500 publishable words, in only about 10 hours. (Half writing, half editing.) Even if I’m having a really bad week and need double the time, I’ve still produced ten times the output of Mr. Perfection in the same 20 hours.

Of course in reality, after a few days of only having 50 words to show for four hours work, most people will either (a) give up or (b) lower their quality standards. Both of which will cause them to feel that they have failed, increasing the pressure and making it even more difficult to succeed the next time.

There’s a huge flaw in your argument, because there’s no way to tell which methods produced a given piece of writing. Your claim that word count driven methods can only produce Fords has no basis in reality as far as I’m aware. Your claim that time-driven methods are more likely to produce Lamborghinis is even more difficult to support. The few writers with sales numbers big enough to actually buy Lamborghinis are, for the most part, pretty prolific.


200 lines sounds like 2000 words at most but it still sounds like heavy work! It’s about 17 words a minute. 3000 words is 25 words a minute. Was he a smoker? Did he light a cigarette from time to time?

Giovannino Guareschi (Don Camillo) was a notable fast writer. He could rip off magazine page full of Don Camillo story in an hour or so. But he did drop dead at 60, so beware.

I’ve written 3000+ in a few hours but these days, I’m pushing it to write 2000 on a day.

Incidentally, I found one way to keep productivity up in writing the kind of stuff I do – business books – is to use an outliner (I used to use MORE 3.1 in classic Mac, now I am doing the same kind of thing in Scrivener). That way, I can set up a new head whenever I feel like it, and when I get bored with writing to one head, I can switch to another.

As for the muse – I think it is a delightful idea. It keeps the compeittion dreaming while I am working, and when I feel like procrastinating, it gives me an excuse.

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard, Business Writer & Publisher

“Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes”, the secrets of how type can help you to sell or influence, and “How to Start and Produce a magazine or Newsletter”, now at the new low price of $29.95. See these books and more at or Amazon.

I cannot argue the logic and the way it is presented I am to assume that "Word Quota is the most common method professional writers use.

It creates a “sellable” product in a timely manner.

I am not arguing the fact that it will help a writer create a sellable product in a timely manner. It will. I question the quality of the work created using that method.

The contradiction is this.

If it is the most common and probably the “best method” to use to create a professional product (published) then why is it when I walk into a bookstore that carries these “sellable” products most of the products are mainly filler.

I would have assumed since it is “professional” and the methods the writers used were “professional” we would see an example of their greatest work.

Now honestly am I wrong? Are bookstores and libraries over-flowing with “killer” novels or are most of them mainly “filler”?

Filler doesn’t mean bad or terrible. It just means mediocrity, average, so-so, alright, ok, passable. A C+ passing grade.

Killer would be that Ace, A+, Hole in One, Heart Stopper, Page Turner, Can’t put down.

So we are left with the question burning in our mind.

Are a majority of writers just Filler Writers (C+) as seen by a majority of published sellable work or are a majority of writers using a method that encourages just average (filler) stories that meet the minimum passable standard to be considered “sellable”.

Well of course it could never be an out dated method that a majority of writers use that is encouraging it.

I mean that would be blasphemy. There must be some other unknown cause that is the culprit behind the flood of just average work. Maybe the publishers lowered the bar? Maybe society has lower standards in entertainment, maybe mediocrity is hot selling because it is cheap and fast.

Who knows.

But I can say Antony you are right. I have never had any experience in writing. In fact I do not even write. I have no experience in any of this at all I just “accidently” stumbled across the mediocrity event in works of “sellable art” by accident. I was in a bookstore looking for a book with pretty pictures when I noticed this statistic…
Hell I can’t even type. But if you look at my long winded responses full of typos and “filler” I can meet your whole weeks quota in less than two hours behind the keyboard. I can usually meet an authors whole day’s quota in just one or two responses. By your method I must be one hell of a writer. And to think I can spew out that much filler or “good enough for a first draft” on my breaks imagine what I could do if I actually applied myself and used the “word quota system” to actually sit down and write a piece for publishing. Man at this rate I should have a first draft done in about 3 to 5 weeks. Whoo doogy! Then maybe I can purchase “writing” software and hang out on writing forums or become good friends with other “writers” and artists.

You are right Antony there is no sense debating the issue any further. I rest my case simply by pointing to the bookstores and libraries.

Mainly filler, very little killer. What method do we owe that to?

That would be one of the most nonsensical responses I have ever read.

For a start, you are making a subjective judgement about the contents of an entire bookstore, based on what… the first couple of blurbs you read from the latest bestsellers? To answer that first question, yes you are wrong. Bookstores are overflowing with a very large number of very very good books. Yes, there are also some (in my opinion) crap books. What does that prove? That some writers are better than others, maybe. That some other people have different tastes than I do, even more so.

Even if the “bad” outweighs the “good”, that doesn’t even begin to prove your argument. There are many potential reasons, not least including conservative publishers and market demands (who, for better or worse, do like reading books by the popular-author straw-men you are labelling as “filler” writers). Even more likely, it could be that good writing is something that is very difficult to achieve, and something I would hazard to say cannot be achieved by 90% of the population.

You are trying to draw a link between the “bad” books and one particular writing method, effectively suggesting that as that method is so prevalent, all of the bad books must have been written using it. Yet you are completely discounting the large number of “good” books that, from the same available evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, were most likely written with the same approach.

That is nothing but empty, lazy rhetoric.

I could make an equivalent empty statement in the other direction: all of the “bad” books are being published because the “good” writers are still carefully fine-tuning Chapter One.

The simple truth is that it is extremely difficult to write well. For a lot of people, it is even more difficult when they have nothing to work with. As a result, a lot of people find it easier to write something first, and improve it later. Which is the key point that you seem to ignore because it doesn’t suit your rhetoric. You have numerous first-hand accounts here that the end result is of better quality for them if they work that way.

If you don’t think that method works for you, or have a set against that method for reasons of “higher art”, that is fine.

But don’t dismiss other people’s experiences, and don’t dismiss the myriad of great books that do exist through a lot of hard work, by blanketing them under the hackneyed and cliched “killer vs filler” chestnut. That is of course unless you think all published books are “filler” (such a hollow, meaningless phrase really, isn’t it?)… in which case I would wonder what interests you in writing at all.


It has always been so. There were hundreds of artists working in Italy during the Renaissance. How many of them are remembered by anyone other than art historians? Every major church in Germany had a Cantor during the Baroque period: name one other than J. S. Bach. (And talk about quotas! Bach’s output was huge!)

Great works survive because people care enough to preserve them. Less excellent work fades away because no one cares. But Sturgeon’s Law (90% of everything is sludge) has always applied.


Go for it. Once it’s published, you can come back and tell us all how easy it was.


Wock old Buddy,
Is there room anywhere in your rationale, to accommodate the fact that ‘Killer’ like beauty, ‘may’ lie in the eye of the beholder.

Are there universally accepted criteria, up against which we can hold any given example of creative endeavour, and say, 'Yes, that`s ‘Killer’, because…?

What in your opinion, constitutes, ‘Filler’ and ‘Killer’?

Would the apparent, general consensus of opinion, pertaining to a work`s quality ( be that opinion ‘filler’, or ‘killer’), be enough for you to accept it as such? Or do you reserve the right to form your own opinion?

How would you, for example, rate, Blytons Noddy Goes To Toytown, or any of her, 'Famous Five', series,or, Steinbecks, ‘Of Mice and Men’? I`m not asking you to compare them, just rate them.

Can you accept that, one mans filler, is another`s killer?
Take care

I stand corrected. Even though many admit to writing filler as a method that makes it easier they of course never allow it to go to press and that is further shown but the massive amounts of Killer found in Bookstores and Libraries since they are overflowing with them.

But since the bad can outweigh the good and the simple truth is it is difficult to write well (something only about 10% population can achieve) many do find it easier to use a method that allows them to write “something first” then improve upon it later. (I call this writing filler but hey I could be wrong)

Please accept my humble apologies for questioning what I felt was an out dated and primitive method and one that led to many published works to contain more “filler” than "thriller because as it has been proven to me already the published world is just overflowing with Killer stuff and there is very little filler ever found in any book store or library.

This has opened my eyes to my mistakes in viewing Hollywood as well. I mean every B movie must contain killer as well as music albums containing nothing but number 1 hits.

Vic-k I agree with you. One man’s filler could be another man’s killer just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But lets speak honest numbers.
Are their more beautiful people in the world or ugly people? And who is celebrated more?
Is there more filler in the world or Killer? And what is appreciated more?

I will also not respond anymore and let this thread die a quiet death. I feel I have ruffled a few feathers in my eccentric ramblings in questioning something I see is above reproach.

Of course. No argument here.

The only debate is about whether working methods have anything to do with the quality of the end result.


People interested in this thread might enjoy DONE–Daily Design Workout, in which a designer strives to create and post something new every day.

The results are uneven, but interesting.


I’ve been a lurker on these forums for quite some time now and have not felt the urge to post until I read the posts in this topic.
Wock, you are an elitist… The last ironic line about Hollywood and B movies, bookstores filled with bad litterature… The notion that only 10% of the population can write fiction is laughable.
I would say that only 10% of the population has the disciplin to write, but that each and every one have a story to tell. But let’s agree to disagree 8)
On a side note, I use a egg clock when I write and I’m not producing Lambo’s every time…



I would not think myself as an elitist.

For one

“Even more likely, it could be that good writing is something that is very difficult to achieve, and something I would hazard to say cannot be achieved by 90% of the population.”

Those were matts words.


Would you be happy with your children receiving a par education or would you want a better education for your kids if it was available?

Do parents wish in their hearts for beautiful children?

Do people treat beautiful people differently?

In magazine ads do more people pay attention to fat ugly people selling things or do they look more to the “beautiful people”?

Do people across America diet more for health or for appearance and how they look towards others?

If you pay for work do you want quality work or work that is paraphrased as “Good enough for government work”.

And yes more people watch blockbuster movies than they do B movies. More people read “best sellers” than “filler” novels in book stores.

If you tell me bookstores are chock full of Top Notch books I would ask why are so many destroyed and their covers sent back then? Why aren’t the “filler” novels justflying off the shelves like a fire sell.

Simple. To most people they suck.

That is the blunt truth.

If you feel I am an elitest then do me a favor and go look in the mirror and tell me you have never wanted the best, never tried to be the best, never wanted first place, never wanted the Hot chick or Hot dude, never wanted to win at something, and never wanted something better for you or your family, never sought quality in anything, and was content with mediocre in everything in life.

If you can say you have never wanted any of those then by all means call me an elitist.

But if you answered yes to any single one of those wants in life then I does that not make you a fellow elitist as well?
I do not see myself as an elitist. I see myself as a person who seeks quality.

If medicore is ok with you and that is all you seek in life that is all you will amount to in life. That is what your whole life will become.

All Filler. No Killer.

The only limitations we have in life are those we impose upon ourselves.

Our greatest potential is only fully realized when we push ourselves beyond those limitations.

Many many people would argue that sales and quality have very little to do with each other, in either books or movies. The year’s bestselling movies are often ignored at Oscar time. The names at the top of the Times bestseller list usually don’t win Pulitzers or Nobels. I’ve seen all sorts of sludge fly off the shelves on the wings of a famous name. (In fairness, I’ve also been lulled to sleep by lots of “award-winning” prose.)

Yes, clearly there’s a difference between mediocre and excellent work. But your use of sales as a proxy for excellence just isn’t supported by the facts.