I like writing. Wait. No. I HATE writing. But sometimes I write anyway, and then like what I’ve written. I also like stand-up comedy and wry, wistful country songs and multisyllabic-and-internal-rhyme-dense hip hop and general interest essays and philosophy and also some other things. I’d like to see if I can make some. Of course, nobody’s paying me to write or work on those things, and it’s difficult to promise someone else that I’ll do those things (because why would they care?) and actually sitting down to work on those things almost always feels dumb or impossible. So, beeminder?
I’m toying with setting up a 1-3 week beeminder to track a regular habit of intentional creative work.
I’m still undecided on the basics here, including what counts as “work” in this context, how much “work” I should require to stay on track over a petty short period, and how to measure/quantify it.
How about words written? And/or words edited? There’s also a beeminder integration with Draft, if you’re into that. But because you said that you’d like to do more than writing: You could pledge to do creative work at least a certain amount of time in a given time period (1 pomo a day, 4 hours a week, two full days a month, etc.). It might make sense to have specific goals for each of those projects and just experiment with it and see what sticks.
In my experience it actually doesn’t matter too much how you approach tracking this goal, as long as you have some plasticity in your ongoing involvement with it. Be it time spent, actual produced songs/essays/whatever, or incremental progress tracked (words written, chapters edited, etc.). More important is to just start. You can optimize as much as you want later, set up better goals, etc. Just start. Starting provides the empirical data you need to optimize as well as the exposure to the real life situation in which you produce, which in turn helps you to accumulate experience about these kinds of situations which will help you to set up the goal (or goals) in a way that makes the most sense to you.
For writing, I split into two sections: non-fiction and fiction. Both have their own corresponding Write, Edit, and Copywork goals; they all use words written because for me, Parkinson’s Law is strong when I beemind time spend on writing.
To supplement those practice routines, I put in performance routine. For example, I set a “write 1000 words in response to a prompt in the writing prompt subreddit”. This is a way to evaluate people’s response to my writings and hopefully obtain good feedback.
I’m happy to share my experience so far in the hope that it’s useful for someone with the same goal.
I used this quote from Neil Gaiman as my starting point
My priorities are to get words down on the page every day and to force myself to finish things (even if they’re terrible!)
I think if I do that it will be hard not to get better quite quickly.
I’m using the Draftin integration to measure words written. It’s a basic writing app that seems to get the job done and was easy to setup.
I only write short stories, poems and essays in Draftin and my rule is that I can work on a maximum of 3 pieces at a time.
If I want to start a new piece and include it in my word count I have to force myself to finish one of the others first.
I also attend a creative writing evening class where I read pieces out every few weeks, which provides some accountability to finish things too.
I started off with a goal of writing 50 words per day, thinking let’s start with a stupidly easy goal to build the habit. That’s gone up to 100 per day now.
I’ve been going about a month and haven’t derailed so far. I’ve written 3500 words and finished 2 pieces (as very unpolished first drafts).
Although that sounds good (and it is a big improvement on what I wrote the month before: 0 words!) the biggest problem I’m facing is that I’m not writing very consistently.
Instead of writing 100 words each day I’m writing 300 one day then nothing for 3 days. Then 1000 and then nothing for a week. Again, it’s better than not writing at all but it isn’t the writing every day, or nearly every day, habit that I had in mind to begin with.
There is a feature called ‘Automatically trim safety buffer’ which would solve that, but it’s only available on the paid Premium Plan.
Automatically trim safety buffer. This requires a premium plan.
Create a second goal, called writing_days or something, and setup IFTTT
to add a datapoint to writing_days when a datapoint is added to your first
goal. Without premium, there’s still issues with this. Without premium,
if you write 10 words, 5 times in one day, you’ll get 5 IFTTT triggers,
which means that the “writing_days” goal will be increased by 5–which
isn’t what you want. With premium, you can turn writing_days into a custom
goal and set the “aggregation method” to fix this.
It would be nice if this was something more officially supported, as it has
been crucial to my Beeminding, but even so I’ve used it almost since the
IFTTT integration was launched.
Personally, I set a time limit for myself. I have to sit down and just type for a solid half hour. No staring off into space, or google searching anything, or playing around on Facebook, just typing. It doesn’t have to be good, I am just trying to get something written so I have something to work with and edit later. I hope that helps.