How much work is enough

One perennial topic on this blog is “How much is enough?” When have you written enough, when have you worked hard enough, when can you stop pushing yourself and leave the rest to get done some other day? My strong belief is that enough is enough: there’s only a limited amount of creative work you can do in a day.

But on the other hand, the idea does exist of capitalizing on hot streaks. Maybe when the writing is going really well, you should keep writing. This is exactly the opposite of what most people do. They force themselves to write when they’re not feeling it, but then when the writing IS going well, they give up after doing an hour of work, because that’s all they needed to hit their wordcount goal.

On the third hand, I also think the words you get while pushing yourself through a hot streak aren’t always the best. After all, sometimes you wake up the next day and realize you’ve found an entirely new direction and need to throw out the old stuff. I can’t count the number of times I was thankful I stopped when I did, because in the morning I realized that although what I’d written yesterday was fine, I now had an entirely new conception of what needed to come next.

I believe in letting the unconscious mind do most of my work! Which is just to say, I feel like one or two solid hours of writing is enough. But then what to do with the rest of the time? I find it hard, personally, to formally give up on the writing day and start reading, so I often fritter my time away watching TV and browsing the internet after my writing is done. One reason I’m liking the Cynical Guide project is that I can basically write infinite words in the Cynical voice without any effort. Yesterday after finishing the day’s main writing, I wrote three thousand words on The Cynical Writer’s Guide To Literary Fiction! Now this one is gonna be smoking hot. There is essentially nothing like it on the market: a book that looks at how the marketplace finds and elevates all these wunderkind literary sensations. It’s gonna be great! Probably be out in six months? Hard to say how long this stuff takes or will take.

2 thoughts on “How much work is enough

Comments are closed