The Point Of Diminishing Returns For Writers

Most of my short stories are between 3,000 to 5,000 words.  I can finish one of these short stories in about 4 -5 hours.

But is it worth trying to cram that many words into 4-5 hour window?

When I first started writing I vowed not to take any long breaks before I had completed a certain word goal e.g. 3000 words.

This strategy only worked for so long.  I would get burnt out.   By the two hour mark my enthusiasm for writing had dwindled and I was just going though the motions.  I was writing only to complete a goal and because of this my writing suffered.

Looking back, I can see the error in my ways.  Today, I will only write for a max of 2 hours without taking an extended break, usually a long walk or exercise.

I also don’t suggest writing more than 4-5 hours a day.  You can only keep this up for so long before you completely burn out.  It’s better to do small chunks everyday than trying to hit big words count in one day.

It’s similar to lifting weights.  To get strong you need to lift heavy and you need to lift often.  But if you lift too heavy and too often it’s going to have negative consequences.  It’s called the point of diminishing returns.

You want to lift heavy enough that your muscles feel it and you want to lift regularly but not everyday.  If you lift too heavy you risk injury and if you lift to often you don’t allow your body to recover.

You should approach writing the same way as you would approach lifting.  Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  Push yourself but don’t push yourself so hard that you work suffers and you become unmotivated.


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