Work Ethic

This interview with Tim Lott in The Guardian about his writing day resonates quite strongly with my own experience, although I still get marginally stressed out because I'm not pounding out scintillating prose from dawn to dusk. Like Tim Lott, I don't really average more than a couple of hours a day of writing when I'm actively working, particularly on an early draft. Sometimes I get crazy/busy, usually on the run up to a deadline. I had a last minute marathon working on River of Light that saw me write six thousand words in one day, but that's very, very unusual for me. Usually, when I hit  two thousand, something just goes 'pop' in my head and more words refuse to emerge. But I'd been working towards those last six thousand words for a long time. I knew exactly what was going to happen, and it moves at a pretty brisk speed, so I kept up the momentum. But like I say, not a typical day.

I can't remember where I read it or who exactly said it - it might have been Nick Mamatas, perhaps on his blog - but fretting about not having done 'enough' writing each day is just the part of your mind formed by the Protestant work ethic that thinks if you're not constantly slaving away, then you're not really doing your job. Which is, of course, untrue. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to do the work. It's the quality of the work that matters, regardless of whether it takes you an hour or half a day. It's worth remembering that Stephen King, one of the most prolific authors of our day, reputedly works only four hours a day.
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