A good number of years ago I heard a joke that went something like this:
‘Informed that the streets of London were paved with gold, a young man travelled there. Stepping off the bus at Victoria, he saw a five pound note on the pavement and picked it up. Thinking about it, the young man smiled and released the note into the wind. As it floated down the street, a man asked him why he threw away the money away to which the young man replied; ‘I’m going to start on Monday!”
Now, I tell that joke because if you are having trouble with your writing during Lockdown, you’re not alone. It seems that one reason why people are struggling to write right now is that they may have too much time on their hands. A problem that results in them postponing the writing until another day when they think it will fare better for getting things written.
Reflecting on this, it seems that without the urgency of limited time in which to finish or being accountable to someone by a certain date, it becomes all too easy for writers to set their writing project to one side until a day when the Muse won’t abandon us.
For some, the answer is to pair up so that they can keep one another accountable as to their progress (or not). This system is premised on the idea that the advanced knowledge that there is a date and time when you will be held to account by the other person, makes you more inclined to complete the task before that meeting.
However, not everyone wants to be held accountable in this way which begs the question: what can be done for writers wanting to achieve their objectives under their own steam?
Well…in an attempt to keep on top of the goals I set myself (and just as regularly fail to keep) I have devised my own Accountability Challenge board – a plethora of things I do in the day that include:
writing 3 pages of first draft, exercise, practicing piano, reading pages from screenwriting books, updating cv, websites, writing blogs, watching instructional and Masterclass videos, re-editing a few pages of plays, relaxing, editing film and so on.
NOW- AND THIS BIT IS REALLY IMPORTANT – THIS BOARD IDEA DIDN’T WORK FOR ME until I rethought the way I was using it!
Initially, I started by placing the magnet counters over the things I did in a day (as I did completed them)…but it soon faltered as there was no reason for me to complete all these things in a day – after all, who would challenge me? That’s when I came up with the idea of challenging myself – ‘Bob versus the board’. (The Epic!)
Okay- this is how it works: placing 18 magnetic counters on all the things I wanted to achieve within the day, as I completed each task, the magnet is removed from its [position where it is obscuring the task and placed opposite to the right of the red line. Then another task is selected and so on and so on. The idea being to get all 18 magnets across the line each day, recording it in blue pen at the top of the board as part of the fraction – such as 10/18 one day having done 7/10 the day previous and so on.
Obviously, this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but if you’re a competitive person looking for a challenging system to engage you in writing, reading and watching more, this might be a useful start for you.
Another benefit is that you can complete other (non-writing tasks) in the day such as exercise or admin which also count – though with each one done, you are moving towards engaging with writing. You can’t avoid it forever 🙂
Anyway, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it might well be useful to someone?
Til next time – whether you have magnets or not, write lots!