Streaks

Today Seth Godin writes about the value of streaks, which he says are about learning and building habits.

Real progress comes not from measuring ourselves against everyone else’s pace, but in building habits. And habits come from streaks.

–Seth Godin

Dean Wesley Smith also talks frequently about the value of streaks as a secret to productivity. Here is one of his recent posts on the value of streaks.

Jerry Seinfeld prescribes streaks to young comedians in his procrastination-ending technique called Don’t Break the Chain in which he recommends writing a joke a day to create a contiguous chain of jokes.

You are what you consistently do, said Will Durant in his translation of Aristotle, proving that this wisdom spans the centuries. Streaks are a way of slowly, inexorably changing your life, of becoming someone better.

Yesterday I hit seventy consecutive blog posts on my daily blog writing streak that began during NaNoWriMo. This Sunday I complete 35 consecutive weekly short stories. I think I’ve learned more by simply showing up each day and each week from these streaks than I could have otherwise.

It’s not that I don’t take classes and study writing. I do. But classes assume you are practicing. Some techniques didn’t even make sense to me until I had practiced producing finished stories for a while.

If you are going to undertake a streak, I recommend kindness toward yourself. If it is a blog streak, don’t get tied in knots about writing what other people want you to write. You actually can’t know. Write only what you want to write that day.

If it is a writing streak, make the number of words easy to do, even for days when you are exhausted and brain dead. So if you think you can easily do 500 words a day, cut it in half for your streak. Don’t get tied into knots about perfect words. Just get the words for your streak down.

Track your streak or use something that will. WordPress tracks my blog streak for me, which is how I knew I’d hit 70 days yesterday. 4thewords.com is a great way to not only turn your writing into a fun game, but also to track your streaks. You can also use various habit trackers. I just use a spreadsheet to track my short story a week, which works best for me.

If you do use a habit tracker that you love, drop a note in the comments.

Be well, friends!

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