by Scott D. Parker
For the new year, I decided to be Jerry Seinfeld.
No, not really, but I did decide to try something he used to do. As a young comic, Seinfeld knew he needed write everyday in order to get his voice. To reward himself with a visual cue, he purchased a calendar with all the days of the entire year. If he writes on a day, he puts a red “X” on the date. Repeat. After a week, you have a string of seven X’s. The days rolled on and so did the X’s. Soon, he had visual incentive not to skip a day, even if he wanted to because he didn’t want to break the chain.
Okay, I thought just after the new year, why not? It’s a gimmick, really, like most everything we writers do to trick out minds. I started on 4 January and wrote. I made a simple choice: I count fiction. Blogs and other non-fiction don’t count. Period. Fiction equals new content. For fourteen days straight, I wrote fiction. I had two stories going in my head and was preparing them both. Boy, it was intoxicating. I got to where I’d bow out of playing a game or something because I hadn’t “made a link today.” I didn’t want to break the fiction chain. It was great fun, too. Nor was I surprised with the amount of content I was creating. (More on that come 1 February on my blog.)
The third week of January showed the flaw in my effort. I finished Story #1 on a Sunday. I hadn’t mapped everything out for Story #2. The day job got to me that day and I didn’t have my lunch writing hour. Sure, I wrote a “CSI: Miami” recap that night but not fiction. Thus, no “X.” Don’t laugh but it killed me. I wrote the word “blog” on that day but, really, it’s a cheat. Come lunch time on Tuesday, it was so easy to break out the laptop and start writing. I wanted to start the chain again.
When it came time to edit the stories, I decided that editing fiction counted since I was still creating new lines and sentences and working fiction. As Story #1 was submitted and the first draft of Story #2 was completed, I again ran into a problem: what to write next? Thus, a chain was broken. Leading me to my corollary to my Fiction Chain: ABW.
ABW stands for Always Be Writing. That’s my short hand for always, always, have something on which I can write every single day. Some days it may be editing. But I told myself never to let a day arrive where I’m between projects. Thus, on my wall now, a large sheet (18-in. x 48-in.) of paper is taped. It is titled “Story Ideas” and I write them all there. If I’m at a loss, I look up. Simple as that.
This one little trick has allowed me to produce more fiction in twenty-two days (started on 4 January, only blogged on two days, suffered a setback on one day and didn’t produce) than I did all of last year. One Month! It’s a gimmick but it works for me. Every month in 2010 might not be like January’s output but it’s amazing how fast stories pile up when you write every day.