My Writing Streak is My Friend

Yesterday was day seventy-five of my current writing streak. What’s a writing streak, you ask? It’s essentially consecutive days that I write.

I have wanted to write every day for quite a long time. I can’t binge very well. I can sit in one place for an hour or two, and then I get distracted by something—kids, the internet, the phone, the internet. I think the most I’ve managed to write in one day is about six-thousand words, but that pace is not really sustainable for me. I wear out on it.

So, since I can’t binge my way to copious production, I have to do it the slow, steady way, which means writing more days than I don’t.

The first half of this year was an exercise in frustration. I had one hundred and one days in the first six months that I didn’t write at all. That means I only wrote on eighty-two of the first one hundred eighty-three days, which I don’t consider to be a formula for success.

I tried and tried to write every day, but I just couldn’t make myself. I would let things get in the way. Up until June, I wrote six days in a row, twice. That was my longest sustained effort. One of those times, I was at a workshop, and had no choice in the matter. In June, I managed nine days in a row near the end of the month. I don’t remember what happened to stop it, but it was probably just a day spent playing Diablo III or something.

Finally, in early July, I got fed up with myself and my lack of progress toward writing every day. I hate the days I don’t write. I hate myself on those days. It’s not healthy. So I decided to challenge myself.

I created a spreadsheet to track my writing progress. Every day that I wrote, I put the wordcount for that day in the cell for that day. I saw where I was at (and how many holes were in it).

And then I started writing, and counting. I told myself I was going to start a writing streak, and I was going to keep it going as long as I could. And then, I told my writer friends. In the early days, I tweeted the day of the streak, and my friends cheered me on.

The first few days weren’t great. I didn’t write a whole lot of words, but I told myself that any number was better than zero, and that if I continued writing, the days would get better.

They did get better. And now, it’s day seventy-six, and I can’t imagine going the entire day without writing something. I can’t imagine doing it tomorrow. It’s become a habit. Something I need to do before I go to bed. There have been a couple days where I slipped the words in right under the wire, but I got them in, and I went to bed happy.

I’ve written 113,000 words in those seventy-five days. I don’t feel like an asshole, any more. I don’t feel like one of those people that talk a good game, but ultimately all they do is talk.

If you’re struggling to write every day, like I was, challenge yourself to a streak and tell your friends about it. Set a goal for a one week streak. On the last day of the streak, set the goal to make it two weeks. Then twenty days. Then thirty. Then fifty, seventy-five. My next goal is one hundred days. Only a multi-day coma or death will keep me from it.