fiddling with metrics


First day of Magical Blogging! How cool. 🙂

I deleted solitaire off my work computer a few months ago, and I’ve pretty much gotten over missing it. But, of course, I’ve found another way to goof around, which is fiddling with metrics.

I mean, I did this anyway. Everybody does (she said, looking around shiftily). “Oooh,” you say, “if I wrote 7800 words a day I’d be done with this book in a month!” (a comment followed by BAHAHAHAHAH), or, “I must turn this in by March 28th. That’s 1756 words a day to reach the anticipated length.”

This is usually followed by spending a lot of time writing a few words, checking the wordcount, subtracting that from 1756 and seeing how much more I have to do, so on and so forth. You get the idea.

The flip side of metrics is what my mother calls putting handles on the cups. We have a friend, a potter, who really hates putting handles on coffee cups. It’s tedious. It’s not hard, but it’s tedious. So she tells herself, “Okay, look, all you have to do today is go out to the studio and put five handles on five cups and you can be done for the day.”

Except when she’s out there, well, there are actually fifteen mugs that need handles, and her hands are covered in clay anyway, so she might as well throw a few more of those plates…

This is an *incredibly* successful way to get words on the page. It’s more metrics. It’s great. You say, “Ok, all you have to do is write a hundred stupid words. Anybody can write a hundred words. Go on, go write a hundred words. It’ll just take a couple minutes.”

Then you check the wordcount and you’ve written 117 words. Well, heck, that’s *practically* 150. Might as well edge up to 150. That’ll be satisfying.

Except, oh, gee, that kind of flowed, and wow, look, you’re at 298 words! How’d that happen? Jeez, you might as well go for FIVE HUNDRED at that rate!

Keep that up for a while, and by George, you’re at 1756 words, and the “I’ve got to be done by,” date is still safe. In fact, since 1756 is such a weird number, odds are you’ve probably scooted past it and landed somewhere around 1900 words.

In which case, 2000 is just an eyelash away…

The best part is that this works every single time, even though I know exactly what I’m doing. I manage to fool myself every time.

Guess I better get back to it. Just a hundred words, you know…’cause it’s all about the metrics.


3 comments to fiddling with metrics

  • Yeah, I do that, but with pages. Five a day, which sometimes becomes six or seven. The first two are by far the hardest, but after that….Well, momentum is a writer’s friend.

  • I tried to do word counts but I always got lost somewhere. It’s the math. I just totally suck at it., so, I’m with David on page counts. It just is so much easier.

    I *have* to do 5 pages day. If I do 7 I feel quite virtuous. If I write 30 pages in one week, I can quit and I get a reward. A day off from writing. A massage. A hot tub bath. A trip to the book store for more books… Last week’s reward was C.E. Murphy’s… I start on Saturday!

  • I agree with David about momentum being my friend. During the school year, I have to do the vast majority of my writing at night. And I’m a morning person, so my creativity takes a while to get revved up after the sun’s gone down. (I even fell asleep over my laptop once, and woke up with two full pages of the letter “r”.)

    But once the words start really moving, look out!