Is “Writing” On Your To-Do List?

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m a latecomer to Mur Lafferty’s (Twitter) podcast, “I Should Be Writing.” The latest episode has definitely made me a convert because it was chock full of goodness.

First, Mur talked about the idea of writing falling off her to-do list. She said that writing had become so engrained in her daily activity (thanks to her own drive and her family reminding her to write, interestingly enough), that it no longer needed to be included on her to-do list. She equated it to brushing her teeth or eating. It’s not something extra. It’s automatic. It’s not a hobby. It’s what she does. Day in and day out, sick and healthy, at home or on vacation.

This idea really struck me. How’s that for a goal for a wannabe writer? Make writing automatic. Simple, useful, and a great driver for improving my ability to write.

Second, Mur talked about her “Magic Spreadsheet.” It was a sort of part public record, part gamification of writing. Every day, if she wrote, she entered it into her spreadsheet, earning points toward the next “level.” Her goal was small, and doable: 250 words. And June 20 marked 200 consecutive days of writing. This is Jerry Seinfeld’s Chain Method in action, and it’s the secret to making writing automatic.

By writing a little bit each day, she could increase her spreadsheet score and level-up. Not at all coincidentally, her writing leveled up as well. Just last month, Mur published The Shambling Guide to New York City with a big six publisher. Something to think about as I start the Clarion West Write-a-Thon.

EDIT:Of course, this isn’t to imply 200 days of writing will get you a novel. Mur has been writing for years and years and years, like most published novelists. So yes, get your 100, 200, 365+ days under your belt, but remember that you may need a few more years to get that publishing contract.