Seinfield, Chains, & Writing

SeinfieldbgI’ve been trying a new technique to increase my writing output with quite a bit of success. Let me clarify, I measure success by working on writing in some way, every day. That’s been my goal. (I wrote last year about how important it was to set goals and then create a plan to achieve those goals, a road map of sorts.) I have finally found a very simple method that works for me.

I first heard about this technique on the website lifehacker.com. Basically, the site covers everything from how to put an altoid tin to use when you’re finished to how to land your dream job (in case you’re one of the five people who hasn’t heard of it). I’m an organization junkie and I’m in love with efficiency. I’m always searching for ways to accomplish more in more efficient ways.

This bit of advice hit my radar last year sometime.

[Seinfield] 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.

I noted it, did a little nod that it was likely good advice, and promptly filed it away. Fast forward a few months to me being utterly disgusted that I could not find a writing schedule that worked for me. I’d write for a day or two, slack off for a week, and start over.

I finally decided to buy a calendar and try this technique. I can tell you that making those chains is more addicting than candy crush. Or chocolate. Or Downton Abbey. Whatever you find irresistible, you will also find yourself compelled to add another link to your chain. There were those days, and we’ve all had them, that writing anything seemed so huge that the only reason I opened my laptop to do it was to create another link in my chain. And I got good, solid work done because of it. I started seeing real progress.

If you’re struggling, I suggest you give it a try. I also (again) recommend Jamie Raintree‘s writing progress spreadsheet to help you keep up with your work on various projects.

Do you have any other tips that might helps all of us get butt in chair?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.
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6 Responses to Seinfield, Chains, & Writing

  1. Bethanne says:

    I like the chains! I should try that.
    Like you, I find my writing off and on from one day to the next. And it’s not always a good excuse when I don’t write. 🙂

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  3. Thanks, ladies. I can’t take any credit for it, but it’s been immensely helpful for me. It’s especially useful if your output varies by time or demand constraints, I think.

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