The Sticker System – Best Way To Write

A few weeks ago I saw a video blogĀ about the best way to write.

This wonderful writer (whom I cannot for the life of me remember now) showed off her sticker system.

It’s a quite simple concept. You start by buying a calendar (I spent $3) and a bunch of multi-colored stickers (another $3 for day-dots in my case). Every day, you try to write a certain number of words and if you do, you put a sticker on the date. If not, you get no sticker.

I thought on the topic for a few weeks and eventually decided it was a good way to visually see how much progress I was actually making in writing. Especially me, the king of procrastination.

Also in the video blog, the writer mentions that her first month was basically garbage. She didn’t commit to the system as she had hoped but once she turned the page on a new month, her “practice month” ended up really driving her success going forward.

Personally, I still don’t know if I agree with all the cliche comments that you hear about writing. Things like “The only rule is writers write” and “If you don’t NEED to write, you’re not a writer,” ect. I think things have changed in writing, especially the speed at which books are written, but despite only producing two books, you’d have to be an idiot to say Harper Lee isn’t a writer… and I’m doubting the same standard was applied. No doubt TKAM was edited and rewritten and worked over more times than I could fathom, but still you get my point.

Now, before you rip me up in the comments, understand that I’m not saying writing is the enemy. I’m simply saying when you apply a formula to anything, you’re not accounting for the whole picture.

I digress.

Regardless of my animosity towards these simple “rules” that we bind to ourselves and use to make ourselves feel horrible when we fail, I still do think establishing a solid habit of writing is a very good thing. So I’ve implemented the sticker system.

For me it works like this –

I get a Green sticker if I write 500 words in a day. It can’t just be any 500 words, but it has to be a part of a book I am working on. I’ve got lots of projects that I have really no intention of finishing but just enjoy working on from time to time. And then I’ve got one “main” project that I have every intention of seeing to completion. I will, however, allow myself one caveat. On Sundays (the day before I try to post a weekly blog entry on Monday), I allow myself to call a blog entry worthy of a sticker. If I procrastinate and wait till Monday to write my entry? No sticker. Hopefully this will get me back on track with you all! šŸ˜‰

But that’s not all I need to build in habits. I get a Yellow sticker if I read 30 pages of something published. It has to be something in a genre I am writing, but I’ve decided I need to stop being so hard on myself when I get picky and put down a book.

And finally, I get a purple sticker if I edit at least 3 pages of either my own project or my critique partners project. If I edit my own too often, I’ll be imposing rules on how many purple stickers I can earn per week from my own work, or I’ll be adding both to the docket to get my sticker (i.e. edit 3 pages of my book and 3 pages or 1 chapter of a crit partners work).

My hope is to build good habits. And being that I’m all about accountability, I’m choosing to share my system with you all so you can ridicule me if I fail at it.

Actually I’d prefer not to be ridiculed. Maybe just pestered a bit.

What are your thoughts on the sticker system? Have any of you done something similar? Has it worked?

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Reliance and Self Control in an iPhone World

For the last few months, my iPhone has been getting progressively worse.

I’ve tried to clean out the dirt and grime in the charger port, but it still forces me to hold the charging cable suspended at an 87.54 degree angle with exactly thirteen tons of metric pressure pushing up to get a charge.

It all finally hit the fan last night when I couldn’t get the dang thing to work, and while trying to apply the metric tons of pressure necessary, the cable-head itself broke.

I’ve spent the first 45 minutes of my morning feeling frustrated beyond belief. I’ve been scouring the internet for simple fixes, researched how I might be able to tear my phone apart and replace the charging port, and come to the conclusion that I hate life. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

It’s a phone.

Why do I care so much about a phone? You’d think I was fretting about a dying relative by my mopey nature and random outbursts of anger. But this phone has become so much a part of how I do things – of how I run my day and how I function in this world – that being without it for even a few hours or days makes me feel naked.

And now I feel a little disgusted with myself.

Because I am currently allowing a device that is literally smaller than my hand ruin my day. Because I let it get this far. Because at some point in my life I decided this small device was so necessary in fact that I would intertwine it with the way I do things. And for years I’ve reinforced this mentality until I find myself here, broken iPhone and irritated expression.

I fumbled through one of my favorite pieces of advice from a good book, and I found a list of things humans should try to embody.

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and… what’s that last one? Oh yeah…

Self Control.

The peace is hard enough to come by in this world of constant distractions. When’s the last time we even heard silence? I read a statistic that back in 1940 it took approximately 10 hours to record 1 hour of silence, of a complete absence of sound. In 2010 the same 1 hour of silence took 3.5 months to record. But even while I struggle greatly to find that quiet place, that struggle is microscopic in comparison to my lack of self control.

I can’t skip a meal without my day being ruined.

I can’t go a few hours without a phone.

I can’t skip Game of Thrones on a Sunday night (and literally watch it on Monday) because even this… a television series… is too great a sacrifice for me.

When athletes train, they spend countless hours preparing their body for the grueling season of activity ahead of them. They do this, put in the time and the work and the preparation, so that they can perform at the highest level possible. And all of that work comes to fruition when the season begins, and those who worked hard rise to the top of the ranks above those who didn’t give it their all.

It’s not about abstaining from things just to prove I can. Nor is it about feeling better when I lack something.

It’s about control.

I want to have control over my body and my mind, not the other way around.

So for today, I’m going to ignore the fact that my phone doesn’t work.

I’m going to turn it off because it won’t charge anyways. But I’m going to leave it off. And I’m not leaving it off because I want to feel better about myself for today. Or because I want to prove I can do it.

I’m going to leave my phone off because I need to learn a little more self control and a little less reliance.

Because there is no greater season than life. And we should all be training constantly for it. Trying to be better. Working towards the type of people we are capable of being.

And I think we could all use a little more self control. Don’t you?