There is something delicious about cheating – cake is sweeter, filched fries are saltier, stolen moments have a category all their own.
And setting up a rigid schedule for your writing, then cheating to get ahead, can be just the system you need to finish a looming (huge, unwieldy) project.
I scheduled my Cheap Retreat for a week in August. I created a daily calendar of projects to make sure I spent each day working towards three project goals:
- Transcribe 100 episodes of Newbie Writer Podcast for a book
- Start transcribing and applying all the good feedback from the Beta reading of Future Girls.
- Submit poems to three publications/contests.
I created a sheet that sketched out the hours to work per day, the goals, and how many pages, or how much time I expected to devote to each project. I created the whole grid by hand using colored markers. This helps me visualize what I should be working on each day, and it’s easy to mark off each job with a satisfying X.
Once I have the goals broken down into daily tasks, I establish the rewards: reading, swinging in the hammock, glass of wine,new clothes, dinner out.
I always follow through with the reward, if I don’t, I’ll start allowing others to disappoint me because I’ve become used to it. So I strive to make the rewards low-cal.
Each day I planned to:
- Spend 2 hours a day working on Future Girls (page count is difficult at this time, so I’m sticking with a time limit)
- Transcribe 10 episodes of Newbie Writers Podcast
- Submit poems to one contest or collection.
Lest you think – wow, she’s pretty lazy, allow me to explain that my retreat is only 10 doors away from my needy mother.
Now that I have a perfect system: I cheat.
I cheat as soon as I can, thinking that if I transcribe 10 Newbie Writer’s episodes right now, I won’t need to do them on Wednesday – the final day of my retreat. If I submit poetry now, I can spend 1/2 an hour in the hammock as soon as I arrive at my retreat house.
So, before I even arrive at the retreat, I’ve already transcribed 30 episodes and submitted poetry to 3 outlets. Worth a whole afternoon with a book unrelated to my field of study.
I do not know why cheating (essentially on myself) is so motivating, but instead of feeling bogged down by obligation – A daily list helps energize me. If I can do 10 episodes, how about five more? If I can spend two hours working on a book, how about another hour today so I can relax tomorrow?
When I feel overwhelmed this system has worked every time as a way to get a project completed.
It absolutely works for me, maybe it will work for you.