1,500 words. It doesn’t sound like much. Until I start writing. Then paralysis strikes, and the writing turns to drudgery. I have to drag words out of myself and fight the urge to surf the Internet, check email for the hundredth time, cross-stitch, or do anything but write.
This is not a problem rooted in a lack of creativity—people will tell you that I have ideas galore swirling through my head. Nor do I lack organizational skills. No, the challenge is simply focusing and putting words down on paper.
To help solve this problem, I recently invented a new system for reaching my word goal. Instead of saying, “I will write 1,500 words today,” I take a sticky note and write 100 on it fifteen times and cross out the hundreds as I write.
It is a simple system and effective because:
1) It makes my progress more concrete. The act of pausing to cross out 100’s is a very satisfying one. And when I cross out more than a single 100, I feel even more accomplished.
2) It subtly guilts me into producing more words. (“Come on, Self, anyone can write a hundred words…”)
3) It lets me track my progress. In one glance, I can see roughly how many words I’ve written and how many are left to write. And if I save the sticky notes and post them somewhere, I can easily track my output over a given period.
Moreover, even if I don’t cross out all fifteen 100’s, I can still draw satisfaction from the system because I see that I at least did something. (And as Mom often reminds me, “Something is better than nothing.”)
What do you think of this system?