Don’t break the chain

January 9, 2014

I’ve been struggling with my motivation lately. Actually, that’s only partily true – it’s motivation + a changed work situation that have thrown my old routines into disarray. But what’s an excuse, and those aren’t useful. What I need are solutions.

Two things. First, I refer you to Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret. Side note: Though he revealed on his recent AMA that he didn’t come up with it, I’m sticking with the name because it’s how I remember it. Sorry Jerry, you’ll just have to continue being an inspiration. I’m sure you’ll manage somehow.

When I finally finished the first draft of my book, it was largely thanks to Mr. Seinfeld’s productivity framework, which allowed me to make steady gains each and every day. 1,000 words a day, get a streak going, don’t break the chain. It works.

But I haven’t been using it since. When I moved from only generating content to heavily editing it as well, the productivity trick didn’t work as well. Or maybe I didn’t think it would, so I didn’t keep it up. I’m not sure. What I do know is that I’m reviving it, and once again I would like your help.

Every day I’m challenging myself to do two things: write 1,000 words of new content, and edit (or rewrite) 1,000 words of previous content. (By the way, only writing/editing my fiction counts – blogging is extra.) Then, on every post I publish here or on Random Curiosity, I’m going to put my current total for the two chains at the bottom of the post where everyone can see them.

If you know me, you know why I’m doing this. When I’m only answering to myself it’s easy to take a day off or let a short chain lapse, but when I have to tell all of you that I’ve been slacking off…well, that’s another story. I hope to once again harness the power of pride and public shame to keep me going, but I’ll need your help to do it. Oh, you don’t have to do much; just keep reading what I post and silently judge me when I falter. Just knowing you’re watching makes all the difference.

I’m probably biting off more than I can chew. I’ve never both written new content and edited this consistently. I’m probably being too ambitious–but no, those are excuses too. I need solutions. I need action.

Writing chain: 0 days long; Editing chain: 1 day long.

I have some work to do.

As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).

By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.


  1. Reply


    Remind me to do this when I start working on the rough draft of my next story! Good luck, and as someone we all know says, “…may the odds be ever in your favor!” -Effie Trinket

    -a young writer

  2. Reply


    Thanks to you I’ve decided to try this for myself but with drawing. Right now my chain is at 18 days, I’ve been doing three pages worth of sketches each day. I’ll probably up the number of pages soon, but I’m already seeing an improvement and it is slowly becoming a habit for me.

    So thank you for introducing this idea! it’s helping me a lot~

    1. Reply


      No problem! I’m glad it’s helping : )

      One thing I would council against is raising your mandatory output as a way to increase productivity. Honestly, it all depends on your personality, but the idea is to get solid momentum going while without overwhelming yourself. You goal should be substantial but also achievable under normal conditions with light-to-moderate effort.

      Ex: The most successful stint I’ve ever had was to write 1,000 words every day. That was easily achievable if I sat down and focused for a while, so it was easy to get started each day. And some days I would write extra just because I wanted to.

      Ex 2: Currently I have my goals set at 2K words edited and 1K words written. The problem is that, when you add in everything else I have to do in the average day (work, chores, friends, etc.), it’s actually really difficult to find the time to hit both goals some days. This makes it more likely that one will fall off (which is why my writing chain is only at three days at the moment) and lessen the usefulness of the whole experiment

      Corollary: That said, I started off trying for only 1K edited, and when I raised that to 2K the extra effort and time-commitment were manageable. So I guess what I’m saying is that while raising your goal might be the answer, don’t assume it’s a surefire fix. Sometimes it’s better to just get started and then go into extra innings when you’re feeling good : )

      P.S. Do you have a site or anything? I’d love to see some of your art!

  3. Reply


    I see~ I didn’t intend to raise the number of pages by a large number, more than likely just one. But you’re doing pretty good! 2,000 words is a lot (at least to me!). Writing is something I need to work on as well since I’m pursuing comics. I like writing and I’ve got ideas but like you said in your other post, getting started is tricky. I’ll probably take some of your advice on that too.

    And yes, I’ve got a website. I cleaned up my DeviantArt recently and started a tumblr.
    I’ll mess around with tumblr more soon since I’ve got a lot of stuff sitting around, but I’ll probably update my DeviantArt less. I’m saving that for fuller pictures.

    1. Reply


      Very nice! The best thing you can do for yourself is do your art in public. It’s easy to stop if nobody is watching, but much easier to keep going when you think they are. Keep it up!

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