Monthly Archives: July 2010

Making a Game of Writing Productivity

What I’m about to discuss is a writing productivity technique I’ve heard about.  It involves turning writing into a game with points.  I’ve found the point system has the handy side-effect of making it easy to see if writer’s block or submissions block is creeping up on me.

There are two goals to choose from in this game (or one can choose to track both goals):  Writing Productivity (WP), or Submissions Productivity (SP).   Dean Wesley Smith has tackled a version of the query game in his post on Goal Motivation under Trick #2, so I’m just going to concentrate on the Writing Productivity game.

First off, decide how many points each of the following is worth.  I’ve listed my own point system, but feel free to change it.  Points are ONLY awarded for a FINISHED piece of work.   Incomplete work gets zero points.  No exceptions.

Finished Short Story (<7500 words):  1 pt.

Novelette (7500 – 15k):  2 pt.

Novella (15k to 50k):  5 pt.

Novel (50k to 125k): 10 pt.  (I deliberately give a novel twice the points of a novella because on average mine tend to be in the 100k range.)

Second, decide on the total points goal for the year.  Make it realistic, but enough of a stretch that you’ll be a sweating to get there.  If desired, you can break the points down into smaller goals by seasons, semesters, months, whatever.

Then find a white board, and each month, tally the total points for the year so far.  Seriously consider giving yourself a prize (such as a longed-for book or album) if you meet certain sub-goals during the year.

My complaint about only giving a prize for meeting the total goal points for the year is that it’s too a long a wait for getting a reward for productive behavior.  Significant increases in productivity ought to be celebrated and rewarded as they’re happening.

Interesting links on the writing business

Check out Douglas Smith’s Foreign Markets for selling speculative short stories.  This is a unique list of non-English markets.  Make sure to read his guidelines if you decide to submit to these markets.

There’s a fascinating article about how literary agent Andrew Wylie runs his business, written by Craig Lambert at Harvard Magazine.

And Cory Doctorow has an update on his self-publishing experiment (and he continues to share the income and expense numbers), at Publisher’s Weekly as “New York, Meet Silicon Valley.”