A Writer’s Log – Post 5: Numbers

Number of words today: 5000

Number of lifetime words: 2189000

Good writing day, but the words took longer than they should, and consequently I am more tired than I should be. Kept interrupting myself every hour or so to check book sales. Roughly, this is what I did:

  • Hit Refresh on the browser. Note the number of copies sold (or pages read).
  • Feel bad that it’s only x and not y.
  • Berate myself for feeling bad. Switch to Word and write a couple stories.
  • Alt-tab over to the Sales page. Hit Refresh. Feel bad. Berate. Cycle repeats.

Even when I am doing it, I can see how stupid this behaviour is. Which is not a bad thing in itself (I do many stupid things), but it is also terribly addictive. And like all addictions, it tends to become a soothing technique after a while. Bored? Alt-tab and click. The words don’t come? Alt-tab and click. Need to think about something deeply? Alt-tab and click. Feeling happy? Alt-tab and click. Miserable? Alt-tab and click.

(An aside: this is the very principle on which slot machines in casinos are built. They pair an easy action – a pull of a lever, the click of a mouse – with a variable reward system. After one click you may get four sales – or emails, or likes, or upvotes. After the next you may get zero. It’s the variability that creates addiction.)

I get these days every once in a while, and I am beginning to notice that they tend to happen toward the beginning of the month. Once sales kick in during the first week, I find it much easier to let go. But those first few days, I feel like I have to be there every minute, watching the pixels change colour.

Goes to show how much we’re now being controlled by numbers, doesn’t it? Wherever we go, whatever we do, we see numbers now. Page views, ratings, likes, follows, shares, upvotes – the stream just doesn’t stop. (And yes, I know my post starts with a number. Don’t mention it.)

I used to work with this affirmation in the past, designed to escape the ‘sales trap’. It goes like this: My writing is worth more than money. 

Haven’t been using it all that much lately (so many kinks to iron out, so little time), which is probably why the behaviour has come back. Time to dust it out and give it another spin.

No reading report today because I made no progress on Creative Schools. No nifty quotes to share either.

Family time was fun (like it usually is on good writing days). Sarayu has learnt the ‘arrow shape’ while doodling with her crayons, and she keeps showing us stuff she has drawn and saying, ‘Arrow.’ And we nod along and say, ‘Yes, that’s very nice.’

Of course, they look nothing like arrows. But we want to be polite.


  1. Alt-tab and click, reality of virtual world!


    • Yes, it has become the staple two-action response for boredom. This tab not doing it for you? There are a trillion others out there. It’s sad because boredom has so many creative benefits. But oh well.

      Hope you’re doing well, Ganesh. We haven’t spoken in a while.


  2. I enjoyed reading your article and agree with you.


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