31 plays x 31 days challenge – mid-point review

I’m half-way through the 31×31 challenge and so far I’ve only finished one play in a day, but I’ve managed to come up with 13 interesting ideas (I had to skip a day). Not all of them are worth developing further, but I feel that at least a couple of them are good enough to use as base for future work. More than anything, I’m happy that I managed to find the time to write, every day, no matter what. If I can keep up this habit,  I’ll be a contented person for the rest of my life!

So, in terms of what is helping: As I said in my earlier post, using the Pomodoro Technique hugely helps. I get lots done in one short but very intense burst. Also, I’m using the “Way of life” app, which allows you to track habits. It is exactly what I was looking for. Many times I’ve read about how Jerry Seinfeld swears by the “Don’t Break the Chain” method, by which you are meant to write everyday no matter what, or else you would break the chain and would have to start the whole process again. I  see how that method can be helpful and a good motivator for many people. But it doesn’t work for me; I’ve tried it, and found that if I wasn’t able to write on a particular day, because life happens, then I would lose motivation and wouldn’t write again for a while. Instead, this app allows you to have something similar, but more flexible and “accommodating” of real life pressures. So if you write, you mark the day as green; if you don’t, you mark it as red, but if you don’t write because of exceptional circumstances, you can just “skip” that day, without breaking “the chain”. The more green I see on the screen, the more fired up I am to continue (even when there is one skipped day thrown in there!). I just hope I’ll be able to stay on track!



On being accountable and building a realistic writing routine

Like most people who choose to write as a hobby, I struggle when it comes to finding a realistic writing routine. I have days or weeks when I feel inspired and manage to carve out regular slots of time to sit down and write; however, these bursts of writing energy tend to be followed by months of complete inactivity. I am getting tired of this vicious circle. I’ve looked into many tools and methods that help create new habits, but have not used any of them in a consistent enough manner fort them to truly be of help. So I’ve decided to start again, and use this blog as a way of staying accountable. I’ll write every week to share what I have (or have not) achieved and the tools I’ve used to do that…

1) First things first – Setting writing goals

I used to have a boss that would constantly ask me to set out my 5-year plan. That used to drive me mad, as there is no way I can think (and plan) so far ahead. I can have a vague idea of what I want, but I struggle with the details when there are so many unknowns. I find short and medium term goals easier to work with.

So  here go my short and medium term goals:

Short goal: Come up with one story/play idea a day for 31 days (I’ve started this on 1 August). My initial intention was to follow the “31 plays in 31 days project”, but I soon realised that I didn’t have the time (or the energy) to write a full play (even if they were in short format) every day. However, I thought it would be a good enough challenge to come up with an interesting and fleshy idea every day (something I can develop into a full-length play later on).

Medium term goal: To have finished, to a good standard, two short plays by end of the year.

I’ve got some longer term goals in my head, but for now I’ll only focus on these two…

2) Getting organised – Finding time to write:

Finding time to write and staying focused are two key things I need to master if I want to achieve my goal. Because I have two 15 month old babies, work full-time and have other side projects, finding a regular spot to write is almost impossible. I’ve tried getting up before the babies or staying up late but soon accepted that I need to embrace flexibility and write whenever, wherever. Having a clear daily goal hugely helps, I find that as the end of the day approaches I have more urgency to write. What helps me stay focus and keep my writing “sacred” and separate from the rest of the world that surrounds me, is using the “Pomodoro Technique”. I break-down my writing into slots of 25 minutes. The more I can fit in a day, the better. But to my amazement, even with only one Pomodoro slot a day, I manage to write a lot. I strongly recommend this technique for people who struggle to find time or tend to procrastinate…

3) Staying accountable:

Apart from using this blog to stay accountable, I’ve picked a “habit tracker” app from one of the many available out there, to make sure I mark every day and reward myself for my achievements…

Because I’m not so concerned about my word count this time, I’ve ignored word counting apps…

So with that… I’ll go and set the clock for my next writing session!