Mike Cernovich has a post up today about how you can write 10,000 words in a day. When I saw it I was skeptical. But he has some good advice up there. Writing is a tough gig, that’s why there’s comparatively not many of us about. You have to write every day, you have to finish what you write, you have to get it out there and have it up for criticism, and you have to keep it out there. Heinlein’s words, not mine.

I think that Mike is trying to build people up. That’s fine, I get that. The bulk of his post is good. I also work out before I write in the morning, and I’ve practiced meditation for over twenty years. So we’re on the same path. However, he is correct about the 10K words but not in the way he envisaged.

Years ago when I played a lot of poker, the difference between a good winning player and a great winning player was how much they allowed themselves to go on a bender. In poker if you’re having a losing night you try and minimize your losses, maybe turn it around and book a very small win. While how you handle losing nights is important, it’s just as important how you handle winning nights.

Too many players quit early when they’re on a winning night. Maybe they’re up a couple of buy-ins and they don’t want to risk losing that and going home a loser. So they book a win. This is fine but what it means is that you never book a big win. A monster win where you go home with ten or twenty buy-ins in your pocket. Those really big wins make a huge difference to your overall win-rate but you have to have the balls to ride them out.

It’s the same with writing. It’s really important as a writer to stick it out on bad days. If you’re having a bad day and you still manage to grind out 1000 words then you’re doing well. But once again, you have to go for a big win when you’re writing well. You can’t get to 3000 words and think, “that’s awesome, I’ll stop now. I’ve had a great day.”

Because you haven’t. You had a good day which could have been great but you didn’t follow it through.

You don’t often get mega-days. But when you’re in the zone and you’re smashing it out of the park, you have to keep smashing it out of the park. Don’t give in to the little voice in your head that’s telling you that you’ve done enough. That’s your inner-loser talking.

This is applicable in any field, not just writing or poker. You have to take the risks to ride out the reward. Mike is right about his 10K words, but not for the reasons that he thinks. He may well disagree with me on that, but that’s fine. That’s what challenging each other is all about. That’s what challenging yourself is all about.