I wrote earlier about forcing myself to face the computer screen for two hours or two pages, whichever came first, in order to get my book written. But when we are good, and do our jobs, we expect a reward. So I also had a little reward system in place–stars.
Okay, so a gold star is pretty elementary school. But, hey, if it works, it works, right?
I put a chart up above the computer with several columns. The first column was the date. I didn’t work every single day. I took Sundays off and some holidays, and there were days when there were family obligations, etc. So each month I made a list of all the dates I would be expected to be in front of that computer for my two hours.
The next column had a page number in it. By the seventh day, for instance, there would be a 14, meaning that I should finish the 14th page of my book by that day. The next column I would put in the actual page number I was on. Sometimes I would be behind schedule, but being the self-competitor I am, I was usually ahead.
The fourth column had a percent in it. I aimed for 400 pages. So every two days, I should finish 1% of the book. It was great seeing the percentage of finished pages go up, knowing the book was getting done. It was exhilarating to see it go up to 10%, 20%. Then it was slow slogging getting through the next part. But once I got to 40% I could almost taste the half way mark! After the 50% mark, I was on fire, running downhill to the finish.
The fifth column was where I entered how many pages I had actually gotten done that day. And in the fifth column, I could put a big star if I wrote those two pages.
But I had more rules. Even if I wrote 4 pages one day, I still had to write my 2 pages the next day. Even if I were 20 pages ahead of schedule, every day was a fresh day and I needed to write those 2 pages. But it was nice to have a little “cushion” there, to be a few days ahead so if something happened, or I had a bad day, or was sick, I would still be on schedule.
Yeah, I know. It was all mind games. It didn’t mean anything. I wasn’t under contract. No one was looking over my shoulder. I wasn’t getting paid for producing. But, for me, it worked. I kept at it. I finished the book. And I sold it to a big New York company. I was in book stores and airport book stores all over the country. But it never would have happened without that steady, disciplined schedule and all those lovely little stars!
Whether it is writing, a diet, or some other chore, what little tricks do you use to keep going?