Having a hard time keeping a writing schedule? Unable to find the time among all the million of other obligations in your life? Just trying to find some balance?
Welcome to another day of Spring Cleaning Week here at Lit & Love. Today I’m going to share with you a method of organization that has really changed my writing life…and yes, it involves sparkly star stickers.
I have kind of a crazy schedule as a teacher. I’m able to be a free-spirited writer during breaks, but once the school year hits, I find it unbelievably difficult to keep up a steady writing schedule.
One of the most difficult things to do as an adult is make time for creativity. Somehow we make time for it as children (coloring books, summer camp crafts, playing pretend), but as we get older it’s increasingly difficult to find time to just let yourself create. You want to write, paint, craft, and dance, but you still have to grade the papers, clean the house, feed the kids, and save the world. It’s so easy to let creativity slip out of your life, and every year when the school year hits, I let it slip away.
But us creative types, we need it. We need that ability to create in order to feel fulfilled all year long. So today, I’m going to share with you the writing and productivity trick that has pushed me to write, produce, and balance.
I’m talking about sticker charts, ladies and gents! Using a simple sticker system, I’ve produced more writing in the past two months than I did in the previous six months.
Really all you need to get started is some stickers and a calendar or planner. I first stumbled across using a sticker system for writing from the great and powerful Victoria E. Schwab, author or one of my favorite series, A Darker Shade of Magic, and a woman who has written 14 books by the age of 28. So, yes, let’s listen to her, people. (Check out her lovely video on keeping a sticker chart here).
My main lady, Sarah, gifted me this awesome Ravenclaw planner, so all I needed to do was order some sparkly star stickers off Amazon, and I was ready to begin my journey.
Victoria uses her calendar exclusively for her writing. I chose to use my calendar to track the things I have to push myself to do in my creative, work, and home life. Each color star is a different accomplishment.
After I figured out my stickers and the areas I wanted to improve, I ended up creating some monthly goals.
Here’s what my April ended up looking like.
How my life changed using a sticker system:
- I ended up writing SO MUCH MORE. I hadn’t picked up my novel since November, and all of a sudden I was a green sticker fiend and made some great headway with my characters.
- I ended up balancing my grading more. I would push myself to stay that extra half-hour at work to grade the small things I usually let slide in order to get a red sticker.
- I really used my weekends. I allowed myself to make my weekends about getting more stickers and being more creative. I would wake up earlier on Saturdays in order to write more.
- I would push myself more on weeknights too. I would want to get at least one sticker even if that just meant simply doing laundry or writing a poem.
- I watched less TV, and focused more on the things I actually love.
- I used the personal data I collected. I really like that I can see some of my trends in my writing, and it pushed me to write a poem if I saw that I hadn’t written poetry for a while or focus on writing my novel if I ended up grading all week.
Some things I encourage you to do if you are thinking of starting a chart:
- Keep yourself accountable, and stay strict with your stickers. Don’t fudge the stickers. The whole point is to produce more, not to simply reward yourself.
- Keep it measurable. Some people are faster writers or more accomplished writers than me. So you may need to adjust the stickers for your writing speed. I kept my word count at 500 words because I’m working on my first novel and it’s my first attempt at fiction.
- Keep pushing yourself. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of half stickers. If you write 750 words, you still only get one sticker. I found that it usually pushed me to write a little bit longer until I reached a 1,000 words. Not only did I achieve 2 stickers, but I also have more of my novel realized.
- Adjust your goals each month. For example, I know I’ll be grading a lot of research papers/final projects in May, so I upped my grading goals for this next month to 20 hours instead of 12. I also took out the pink stars for May because I found that writing exercises ultimately became poems (purple stickers) or part of my novel (green stickers).
There is something magical in actually having a physical calendar and a physical measure of accountability. I’m sure you could translate this system to an app or google calendar, but I’m definitely sticking with stickers.
What are some ways that you keep yourself productive and creative in your life? What is a staple of your writing routine?
Lit & Love,