#102: Don't Break the Chain

July is over, and so is my challenge to write every day for 15 minutes. So how did I do?

Really, how hard it can be? 15 minutes a day. That’s nothing, right? Well, it was pretty tough for me, I won’t lie. On a number of occasions, I came uncomfortably close to giving up. I was literally writing the last thing before bed, having to focus very hard on my eyelids to keep them open. But I did it, and here are a few lessons that I’ve learned in the process.

I still have mixed feelings about writing every day. Depending on your perspective, it’s either much easier or way harder compared to writing intermittently. Let me explain.

Your energy/motivation/inspiration naturally fluctuates from day to day, from week to week. Even over longer periods, there are times when things couldn’t be better and times when they seemingly couldn’t get any worse. Medical conditions aside, this is a part of life and from that perspective, locking yourself into a rigid rule to write every single day no matter what creates a lot of tension on days when you’re really not feeling like it. It can get pretty tough.

On the other hand, when the rule is that you write every day, it removes friction. You no longer think in terms of whether today is a good day to write or rather skip. You stop questioning those things and focus on how can you get it done instead. After a while, you get into a self-perpetuating rhythm and build an identity around that rule. I write every day. That’s the sort of person I am. Your subconscious tries very hard not to break the streak because by doing so, you’ll lose a part of your identity.

The problem with the second perspective is that it only works when you never break the chain. When you skip even once (not counting serious exceptions here — when you get run over by a car, you’ll obviously skip a few days), the whole thing will fall apart like a house of cards. Ultimately, that means that you have to push through some extremely difficult situations when you just don’t want to do it not to break the chain.

Don’t ask me why, but that what my experience was. I only stuck with it because I was on a challenge. If I allowed myself even a single exception, the whole thing would just end. Because the next time when I wasn’t feeling like it, I would default on the very same excuse.

Anyway, I wrote about 7,000 words over 31 days in 15-minute increments. That’s about 225 words per session. That sounds about right. Extrapolate that over 12 months, and you’ll get 84,000 words — a decent length for a full-blown novel. That means that if you write about as slow as I do and will write for 15 minutes every day, this time next year, you will have written a novel.

Like Jerry Seinfeld says: don’t break the chain.

Short Stories

I read these short stories this week:

Thank you for reading! If you liked this post, leave a comment or share it on , , Tumblr or .

Zig zag line
Sign up for my newsletter and be the first one to know when I publish the next story.