Writing quotas

From Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair:

When young one builds up habits of work that one believes will last a lifetime and withstand any catastrophe. Over twenty years I have probably averaged five hundred words a day for five days a week. I can produce a novel in a year, and that allows time for revision and the correction of the typescript. I have always been very methodical and when my quota of work is done, I break off even in the middle of a scene. Every now and then during the morning’s work I count what I have done and mark off the hundreds on my manucript. No printer need make a careful cast-off of my work, for there on the front page of my typescript is marked the figure — 83,764. When I was young not even a love affair would alter my schedule. A love affair had to begin after lunch, and however late I might be in getting to bed — so long as I slept in my own bed — I would read the morning’s work over and sleep on it. Even the war hardly affected me. A lame leg kept me out of the Army, and as I was in Civil Defence, my fellow workers were only too glad that I never wanted the quiet morning turns of duty. I got, as a result, a quite false reputation for keenness, but I was keen only for my desk, my sheet of paper, that quota of words dripping slowly, methodically, from the pen.


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