Anthony Trollope on the Importance of Counting

From  the beginning of my  literary  work, I made it my rule  to  write  an  allotted number  of pages every day. I  arranged  a system of  work  for myself, which I would strongly  recommend to those who feel,  as  I have,  that  labor, when  not  made absolutely obligatory by the circumstance, should never be allowed  to  become spasmodic.

When I have commenced a new book, I have always prepared a diary, divided  into weeks, and carried it  on  for the period which I have  allowed  myself for’ the completion of the  work .  In  this I have entered, day  by  day, the  number  of pages I have written, so  that if  at  any time I have slipped into idleness for a day  or  two, the record  of  that  idleness has been  there,  staring  me in the face, and demanding  of me increased labor, so  that  the deficiency might he supplied.

According  to the circumstances  of  the time, I have allotted myself so many pages a week.  The average  number has been  about  forty.  It  has been placed  as  low  as  twenty,  and  has risen  to  112. And  as  a page is an ambiguous term, my  page has been made to contain  :250  words;  and  as words,  if  not  watched, will have a tendency  to st r a g g l e ,  I have had every word counted  as I  went.

I have prided myself  on  completing  my work  exactly within the proposed dimensions and within the proposed time,  and  I have always done so.  There  has ever been  the record before me,  and  a week passed with .an insufficient  number  of pages has been a blister to my eye,  and  a  month  so disgraced would have been a  sorrow  to  my heart.

from the Writer Magazine, published Boston, 1906.  The Writer still publishes monthly.  The old issues, like this one, can be found on Google Books.


You can read all of Trollope here.  He does makes a good point…and that is the goal setting of how many posts, photographs, paintings, pages to produce a week.  He is not the first to state that without a goal, a timetable of sorts, nothing will get done.

The painter Vincent Van Gogh thought the same, and his goal was a painting a day.  I first thought that amazing until my dh V pointed out that if you devote 8-10 hours a day to something like we do at work, shouldn’t something worthwhile get produced?  Upon reconsideration, I realised that V was right and that leaving things to chance creates all sorts of problems, “blocks” and excuses.

40 posts a week though, is a quite a goal, I think I will start with a lower one and work my way up.  How about you?  What goal do you have?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.