Writers are often told that writing every day is the best way to stay productive and keep developing as a writer, but it is a discipline I have always struggled with. When a Book-in-a-Week is happening, I find it easier to stay motivated as I see other writers’ daily updates flowing in, but at other times I can easily forget about writing for days at a time. Recently I have been introduced to a method for staying on track which I have found to be the most effective way I have discovered of writing every day: the “chain” method.
Often attributed to Jerry Seinfeld, the method is simply to buy, find or make a calendar with a square for each day, and tick off when you have reached your target for the day. Each day, the “chain” of completed days increases, with the aim being to keep an unbroken chain going for as long as possible so that you reap the benefits of writing every day.
At the end of May, I attended a writing retreat and wrote several thousand words in one day, which ended a long slow spell for my writing. Not wanting to lose the momentum, I decided to try out the new method I had read about. I started a chain, placing a tick on my calendar for each day that I completed more than 50 words. With such a low target, it was not too difficult to get started, and most days I went on to write at least one or two hundred words on my no-longer-stalled novel.
My first chain lasted thirteen days. In thirteen days of writing every day I added some five thousand words to my story. When the chain came to an end, I was annoyed at myself for breaking the chain, particularly as there was no good reason for the interruption, I simply got distracted. However, the advantage of this system is that instead of allowing the annoyance at not writing every day to sap my motivation, I instead found that my anger immediately fueled my desire to go further next time.
I nearly suffered a setback yesterday when I was unable to find the cable to charge my laptop. Previously I might well have waited until it turned up before getting back to my writing, but with the chain in mind, I instead decided to pick up a pen and start writing longhand, and was delighted with the results.
I am now three days into my second chain and determined that it will last at least as long as the first. If, like me, you struggle with forming a consistent habit of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) why not give the chain method a go? You might be surprised by your success!