“Quantity produces quality,” Ray Bradbury once said. “Write only a little, and you’re doomed.”

Because at the end of the day, as a professional writer, you write for money. That’s what it means to be a professional. It doesn’t mean you’re better than the amateur. It means you do it for the money.

A whore who only fucked one client a month would starve.

And as a word whore, if you only write a book a year these days, you are also going to starve.

Upping your daily word count, cutting down on the number of rewrites, getting it right the first time–these are all front you need to attack if you are to make a living as an author of fiction.

If you’re a perfectionist, like I am, you need to cut that shit out right now. Nothing you write will ever be perfect. Accepting that fact may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a writer, and it’s something you must do if you want to up your word count.

I take inspiration from Graham Greene, who spent his life rejecting the “Catholic author” label. And yet that label fits his work so well. He wrote books with flaws. And then he published them. He didn’t spend years agonizing over it. My theory is that his Catholicism made that process easier for him. Protestants–and I suspect Jews as well–tend to internalize their guilt, and brood over their faults.

This is death (or rather poverty) for the author of fiction.

So. NaNoWriMo: a novel in a month. If you’re a pro, don’t just write a rough draft in thirty days. Write, rewrite, edit, proofread, and publish the damn thing in November. This November.

Few people can maintain that pace, and I’m not suggesting that you do, either. But you need to stretch yourself. If you aren’t able to produce a decent short novel of 50-55k words in a month, you need to seriously reconsider your aspirations to be a professional writer.

Make it your hobby. Call yourself an amateur. But a professional?


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