I’m going to put the other 30-day challenge on the back burner, because I’m not really invested in it yet and the timing is perfect for this one.
Zeke has challenged me to write one page each day for thirty days. And it has to be on the same topic every day! Coherent, too. Oh, the creeping horror, the humanity!
Our motivations are a little different. He’s into discipline for its own sake, and I like to accomplish things for their own sake (like a man). I used to be naturally disciplined (and look at me now, Ma!), but nowadays I just put up with it as the price of admission to do anything worth doing. Not a bad perspective, if you ask me.
Now, intrinsic motivation’s a beautiful thing, but it has a way of breaking ranks at seven in the morning. You’ve got work in an hour, you’ve got other commitments, you’re already skipping breakfast and a shower, and another sixty minutes of sleep would really boost your work productivity. So writing 600 words is the last thing on your mind, and you don’t even know what those words are yet.
That’s where planning comes in. You know there will be times when you need extrinsic motivations, so you plan to have them on hand to help you reinforce the habit of writing at the designated time (habitually writing at a designated time is practically an extrinsic motivation itself, plus you won’t forget!). Our resident supergenius* came up with the brilliant idea of printing our beautiful creations with hard covers, just for the enjoyment of looking at them and basking in ego-autoeroticism (that gives me a fan-fic idea…). As a tangible reminder, we’ll be leaving $15 cash out in plain sight; that’s a high estimate for the cost of printing.
Three hundred words and I haven’t even mentioned the projects themselves. Looks like achieving a word count won’t be a problem for me. Finishing my project though, that’s a different story.
Zeke will be working on a fantasy story that he started…was it two years ago? A long time, anyway. He put a lot into it, racking up a count of somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000 words I’d estimate. Not huge, but not a small effort by any measure. Well, he ran into some writer’s block when, like they sometimes do, the plot and characters threw off their master and started meandering as they pleased. A brute-force, disciplined approach ought to break through those blocks.
Soon, he shall kill the beast and mount its head on his bookcase.
I enjoy writing fiction as much as anyone, but I’ve set my sights on a different target: a numerical linear algebra wikibook. (They don’t have one yet, I checked.) And the numerical analysis text that might include a section on linear algebra isn’t very well developed. I figure this is a perfect time to do some technical writing on a topic I have to study anyway. Plus, there are a lot of practical reasons to write a 400-level mathematics textbook. It’s great portfolio material, it’s a serious accomplishment of its own, and the nerdy kittens will be all up ons. I’m only off the SMP due to low SMV and a lack of interest; sprinkle a little confidence, put together a metal band, and I’ll have my pick of the litter without much extra effort.
Naturally, it’s going to take a little more than 30 days to finish my project. But it’s a handy time to start, and I’ll have defeated the challenge of writing 30 pages even if I don’t finish.
*Me of course! Wipe that look off your face.