Tag Archives: Organization

Don’t break the chain!

This is a good visual trick for establishing a routine of any sort. In this case, it’s about writing daily.

Jerry Seinfeld once gave advice to a young comic.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “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 next is to not break the chain.”

And then he repeated for emphasis: Don’t break the chain.

In looking for an image to illustrate I found a site that allows you to do this online.

For some of you, this might be great. But you know me, I’m the analog girl, and for me, that big calendar on the wall would be the answer. In fact, it’s how I used to meet my deadlines when I was writing novels.  I’d have a one-year calendar on the wall beside my desk (where my storyboards are now) and I’d write each day’s page count on it and watch that chain of days grow longer and longer.  On good days, I’d scratch through the word count, sometimes more than once, as I kept adding more and more.  Deadline+adrenalin=werdz on page!

To add to the mix, a recent lifehacker post demonstrates “Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret on Steroids.” He points out that it can be used to build any habit from exercise to reading to Jerry’s original goal, writing.

After a long career of not writing daily, of believing that forcing words every day whether they seemed ready or not did not produce my best work, I finally gave in and started the writing daily habit.  I remembered those days under deadline, and how the adrenalin built, the muse flexed, the creativity soared.  And yes, I discovered that writing daily and insisting that I produce a certain number of words could work for me. I was amazed, and on a creative high.

Real life knocked me around a bit recently and I’m not writing now.  I miss it.  I need to get back on the bandwagon. I may even get another Yearly Wall Calendar if I can find a blank place on the wall to stick it, and a fat red marker… or no, I’ll keep the word count instead or… I dunno. I’ll figure it out. If I don’t get back on the wagon I think I’m going to lose my mind, though.

Do you write daily? Do you have any daily habit? Do you track it?  How?

In the meantime, advice to remember, writers–Don’t break the chain!

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4 Comments

Filed under Analog, Office gear, Organizing, Storyboard, Writing, Writing daily, Writing Process

Don't break the chain!

This is a good visual trick for establishing a routine of any sort. In this case, it’s about writing daily.

Jerry Seinfeld once gave advice to a young comic.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “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 next is to not break the chain.”

And then he repeated for emphasis: Don’t break the chain.

In looking for an image to illustrate I found a site that allows you to do this online.

For some of you, this might be great. But you know me, I’m the analog girl, and for me, that big calendar on the wall would be the answer. In fact, it’s how I used to meet my deadlines when I was writing novels.  I’d have a one-year calendar on the wall beside my desk (where my storyboards are now) and I’d write each day’s page count on it and watch that chain of days grow longer and longer.  On good days, I’d scratch through the word count, sometimes more than once, as I kept adding more and more.  Deadline+adrenalin=werdz on page!

To add to the mix, a recent lifehacker post demonstrates “Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret on Steroids.” He points out that it can be used to build any habit from exercise to reading to Jerry’s original goal, writing.

After a long career of not writing daily, of believing that forcing words every day whether they seemed ready or not did not produce my best work, I finally gave in and started the writing daily habit.  I remembered those days under deadline, and how the adrenalin built, the muse flexed, the creativity soared.  And yes, I discovered that writing daily and insisting that I produce a certain number of words could work for me. I was amazed, and on a creative high.

Real life knocked me around a bit recently and I’m not writing now.  I miss it.  I need to get back on the bandwagon. I may even get another Yearly Wall Calendar if I can find a blank place on the wall to stick it, and a fat red marker… or no, I’ll keep the word count instead or… I dunno. I’ll figure it out. If I don’t get back on the wagon I think I’m going to lose my mind, though.

Do you write daily? Do you have any daily habit? Do you track it?  How?

In the meantime, advice to remember, writers–Don’t break the chain!

4 Comments

Filed under Analog, Office gear, Organizing, Storyboard, Writing, Writing daily, Writing Process

Storyboard, Aug 3

This is what my storyboard for book two looked like two days ago. (The part with the green background.)

It had three cards on it when I started writing book one.  While writing book one, I occasionally slapped new cards up on books two and three when I had ideas, in the general area of the books where I thought something would happen or be important. [Book three is on top, but most of its cards are in the first part of the book so not in this pic.]  Post-its tend to fall off eventually but I did have some, and some scribbled notes and some printed.  Now I’m looking at what I have, figuring out what else I need, eliminating those ideas that probably won’t fit.

I am very disorganized. Any kind of analysis requires this kind of thought process is a real shift in gears for me.  So having these physical elements to work with–so fluid and easy to move around, remove, put back–has made all the difference in the world in my ability to visualize and control my story.

I’ve never done this detailed kind of outlining and plotting before, but for this trilogy it’s absolutely necessary.

The storyboard technique is from the aforementioned screenwriting book, Save The Cat, and I wish I’d learned it earlier.  I’d used scene cards before, but never in this way.

I have used color to represent things like “not sure about this” or “R’s pov” but when I have a plot that is getting close to solid, I will make all of this neat and print it out in proper scene cards and then use it to write from.

Also, I had a major spoiler on the board. Not that anybody ever actually reads it but me but… I have removed that spoiler and rewritten so that it is no longer spoilery. (wink)

8 Comments

Filed under Analog, Index Cards, Novels, Office, Organizing, Save the Cat, Screenwriting, Storyboard, Writers, Writing

Home Library

What’s your home library like? My book of favorites is a mess of battered paperbacks that I know I’ll go back and reread again so I don’t let go of them. I have a bookcase of reference materials beside my desk so I can reach and grab at any time. And I also have some crowded shelves that I need to thin from back when I was picking up books just because they looked interesting and I thought I might like to read them. (My shelves are organized enough that I know where a book is likely to be by bookcase.  Examples forementioned: books I love go here, books I use go here, scripts I want to scan into digital files and then ditch are over there, etc.  And then the two bookcases of stuff that I need to sort through and thin out.)

The problem is, my life has changed. I no longer spend so much time reading books that I pick up and read one just because it looks interesting. I have to really want or need to read it to spend the time on it.

I think my casual “that looks interesting” reading is now done on the internet.

And yet I still find myself ordering a book from Amazon or picking one up at the book store just because it looks interesting, and then, months or even years later, it still sits uncracked on my shelf.

I really need to get past this need to acquire and to own and to hold books unless they are books that I lust after.

But while I’m doing that, I also ran across something really cool. I don’t loan a lot of books because the ones I would loan are the ones I love and wouldn’t want to lose, and I learned better than to loan them when they stopped coming back.

But if I loaned books, I’d be tempted. I mean, these fit 3x5s and everything. And they’re so cute!

Library pockets:

library-card-pockets

I am tempted to buy them the same way I’m tempted to buy books that look interesting, except that I’m sure they would go into my drawer until I needed them and that would be, probably never.  Or I’d stick them in a few books but not loan those books out.  Or something.

More like them, and other library supplies here.

So tell me about your books, your home library.  Stacks everywhere or neatly shelved? You’ve read them all a gazillion times or many are to-be-reads?  You can find any book at any time or you’d hunt for days to find one?

7 Comments

Filed under Books, Index Cards, Writing