Don’t Break the Chain!

They say the best way to improve your writing is to just keep writing. For most people, including big-name authors like Stephen King, that means making writing an every-day habit.

A lot of people struggle with this–I know I do. Busy lives get in the way and we find ourself getting into bed at night and wondering why we didn’t have a chance to sit down and write today. The reason? Because we don’t make writing a priority. It’s something you have to make yourself do, and to do that, you have to make yourself accountable.

I’ve personally started doing this by using Jerry Seinfeld’s method of productivity. Below is a brief explanation I’ve excerpted from this great LifeHacker article.

[Jerry] told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.

Essentially, you are visually holding yourself accountable for keeping up with your daily writing habit.

But how much writing you get done depends on you. Do you want to set a minimum word count? Maybe you want to write at least 500, or 1000 words a day. Or a time minimum, where you don’t get up from your chair until you’ve worked for at least an hour. Decide this ahead of time and hold yourself to it.

And thanks to the magic of the internet, someone has already created an awesome, easy to use (and free!) website called Don’t Break The Chain!

I am a huge fan of this site. I have it as one of my home screens to remind myself to get work done every time I pull up the internet. My favorite feature is how it allows you to create and manage multiple lists. I currently have four lists: Writing, Editing, Reading and Working out.

Unfortunately, in the wake of my recent completion of graduate school, “Working out” is the only list I’ve been keeping up with, but I plan on changing that. After all, I only went to school for five years to learn how to write well–I had better be using those skills, darn it!


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