Recently, I got an idea about achieving writing goals by listening to Gretchen Rubin’s podcast. Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project and has just started a podcast with her sister who is a television writer in California.
When trying to write a novel, you’ve got to build a stack of 200-400 pages of story. And it makes the temptation to skip a day or a writing session really easy, because what difference does it make to skip a few pages of writing time? Rubin’s teaching story goes like this…
“If ten coins are not enough to make a man rich, what if you add one coin? What if you add another? Finally, you will have to say that no one can be rich unless one coin can make him so.”
Writing sessions are like that one coin. If you keep adding one session to the next, you will end up with a novel ( or at least a significant rough draft.) Each session has value if you keep the heap of pages in mind.
If you say, one session a week is all I can do, isn’t it still better to slowly be adding to your stock pile of pages? If you say, all I got was a paragraph today, well that is still better than nothing. You are a writer by writing and tending to your work.
Rubin offers that a strategy of monitoring that can help counteract the temptation to put off your writing.
Sites like 750words are helpful for monitoring because you get the thrill watching the word count go up as you write.
Making an index card for each scene completed would help a writer see the scenes piling up. Pulling out a blank index card when I sit down, might allow me to be more “on-task” than “online.” Or filling in a box on a calendar might work. I probably need a sticky note on the computer too, reminding me to keep going.
Having a partner who is also writing can help greatly. Emailing a check-in after every session of writing to report progress, is a great way to move forward in the book and keep me more honest about what I’m doing.
Meeting up with a friend over Skype, or FaceTime to announce a mutual writing session could work.
Getting to know your Barista well enough that when you come in to order your coffee, they ask you about your progress, could make sneaking a peek at the internet less attractive, because you don’t want them to see you slacking. You get a few pages down and you get to drink coffee too!
While no one strategy will work all the time, I like this little coin idea because it allows us to work at our own pace, or the pace life allows, and know that even our tiniest efforts have value.