In Praise of the Productivity Crawl

There are plenty of authors (full-time and otherwise) who write 50,000 words or more each month. What makes NaNo different is the community that comes with it, the camaraderie, and the forums. I’ve already mentioned the community and camaraderie that I received from participating in NaNo via Twitter. Today I want to talk about how the forum inspired me.

I didn’t use the forum much during November. I was receiving all the support I needed to keep writing from Twitter and emails from my CPs. However, I did poke around the word wars forum the week when I hit my writing block, and while I was there, I found this sub-group of word wars that really appealed to me. In them, you don’t race other people, and you don’t really race yourself, either. You go on an adventure.

This is the one I intended to do, but there were others, like this Egyptian Tomb one, that were amazing, too.

On Twitter, it was all about racing your friends and writing the most you could. The crawl I found was about more than that, and I adapted it for my personal use. While I didn’t talk about it in my Week 4 update, what got me through the week was a productivity crawl of my own making. It went something like this:

  1. Get a quick start on your session and write 200 words as quickly as you can.
  2. Excellent work! However, you aren’t just about writing today. Open freelance work and edit 10 pages.
  3. Time for a cleaning break! Set a timer for ten minutes and clean.
  4. You’re doing great, Rochelle! Set a timer for seven minutes. If you reach 350 words, you win. If you don’t, do twenty crunches.
  5. Good job! Look at you go! It’s time to get back to your freelance work. Edit another 10 pages. If you don’t get distracted, you win! If you do get distracted, you must either write 200 words or do five pushups.
  6. Whether you won or not, you need to write. Set a timer for thirty minutes and sprint to the finish!
  7. Great job! Time for a real break. Read for 10 minutes.

And that’s what I would do, over and over again while my daughter slept. I didn’t always make it through all of the steps in one sitting, but it worked. I got through 150 pages of freelance editing and kept up on my writing goal.

As December continues and my time is pulled three ways again, I’m going to make myself another, ripe with rewards and punishments. It’s a break from my usual way of working (which is just weekly to-do lists), but I find I’m a lot more consistent when I have a crawl to work through. It’s not like a race–it’s like a game.

The game of life

Anyone else have any tips on tricking yourself into being productive?


    • 🙂 As long as it’s working… I tend to whine and wait until it would take a miracle to finish everything on time… THEN I pull out the productivity crawl and make a miracle happen. It would work better, I think, if I didn’t wait until the last second, too.

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