I recently read an article about writing and procrastination. Coincidentally, I'd also just finished a long session of procrastination, watching the first couple of seasons of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, so naturally my eye was drawn to a link within the article referencing Jerry Seinfeld. In that article, Seinfeld described how he posts a year long calendar on his wall, and every day that he writes, he puts an "X" on the calendar.
"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 is to not break the chain," the article quotes.
A couple of days later I found myself discussing the "Seinfeld Strategy" with my artist friend Laura, while procrastinating with her on a dog walk. Turns out she does something similar to motivate herself, but with a monthly calendar, using stickers instead of X's. I believe she referred to it as the Kindergarten Method.
Later that same day Laura sent me a PDF of a year long calendar she created and my hubby printed us a couple of 18 x 24 copies on his plotter at work.
Something that stood out in the Seinfeld article was the statement "You'll notice that Seinfeld didn't say a thing about results." And that's kind of what made the penny drop for me. It doesn't matter how long you write, or if it's any good, the point is to just write.
And don't break the chain.
Until I began using the strategy I had a subconscious belief that to succeed I would have to spend a huge block of the day writing, that I wouldn't get anything done unless I treated it like a full time job. And my results would have to be perfect. I felt oppressed by my responsibilities of part-time work, keeping the books for our company, a daily dog hike and general home management tasks (cleaning, cooking, errands). I thought I had to make sure all of that was taken care of, before I could get to the writing. And I discovered procrastinating those chores was eating up a lot of time too.
I am very proud to say that so far, for me the Seinfeld Strategy has been a rousing success. I started the X's on February 24th and have not broken the chain. As a result I have completed the second version of my first draft for Reg's Memoir - I had no idea I was so close to completion. I printed it out so I could do a hard copy edit - 327 pages is a lot more paper than I thought! Once I finish this edit I'll make the changes to my digital copy and then I'll send it out into the wide world in search of a publisher.
If you'd like to give the Seinfeld Strategy a try, Laura's given me permission to post her calendar here. It's a PNG file...can you make that bigger and print it? or can you convert it to a PDF? I don't know much about that stuff, but the article had a link to a "Year At A Glance" calendar on Amazon. Your local Staples probably has something too.