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Don't break the chain!

June 29, 2014

So R.J. Anderson turned me on to "don't break the chain," wherein one commits to writing for 15 minutes every day, to create a chain of unbroken days.  (Some days can be scheduled off in advance.)  I thought it might be a good way to keep my writing hand in during day job weeks.  (I work full time, but only every other week.  Or, I write novels full time, but only every other week.)   I didn't think it would really add up to much, though.

 

Wrong. 

 

Last week I wrote every evening except Friday.  I wrote 3118 words.  I kept excited about my newborn book, and know exactly what I want to do when Monday comes and I can really spend some time with it. 

 

3000 words is a lot for me.  I am a desperately slow writer who can often spend hours on a single scene, especially when starting something new.  A 1000 word writing day is a big deal for me.  By way of calibration: on my recent writing retreat, I worked full time from Tuesday supper to Thursday midnight – just an orgy of writing.  I did between 8000 and 10,000 words. 

 

If you want to try this, I’ll tell you that the trick for it for me was (unsurprisingly) stickers.  I get a tiny shiny star for each day I do this. Also, as of last week, I committed to writing it down on the spot – not just opening my writing notebook at the end of off weeks and going: now, what days did I manage to write?   A sticker plus a word count has kept me on track.

 

It’s kept me so intensely on track that skipping it on Friday in favor of seeing a movie and spending some time with my husband made me feel guilty, and if I should stay up (past 1:00 AM!) to sneak in my 15 minutes.   Answer – no.  I will perhaps schedule Friday evenings off.   Writing shouldn’t be about the guilt.  

 

The best bit?  Those higher word count days are generally ones where my timer goes off and I just keep writing…. 

 

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