Keep an Activity Log
I liked having this from last year, and using a spreadsheet makes it relatively easy to maintain. So I'll stick with it.
This is one idea to incorporate a few different factors:
One of my friends has been wrestling with the last book in the trilogy he's been writing. He comments now and again about having an idea for Thing That Isn't the Trilogy, but doesn't usually act on it because it's not what he Should Be Writing. I found myself thinking: "I like reading what he writes. I just want him to write stuff, and I don't care that much if it continues Existing Story or not."
That's not true for all authors -- some writers have some stuff I like and some stuff I don't, and as a reader I'd rather they worked on the stuff I liked. But it was true for him.
And, to a large degree, it's true for me. There's some stuff I want to finish more than others, but there's nothing that I wish didn't exist.
So really, I want everything to count. Journal entries, fanfic, sketches, roleplay prep, everything I do that takes creative energy -- it all matters.
Some Things Count More than Others
But even though everything counts, there are some projects that I really want to be able to look back on and say "I did that!" So I want an incentive system that reflects that.
Generally, I prefer tracking time-spent to words-written, or other concrete measures of success. This is because (a) the two are fungible in practice: if I devote time to working on something, I will make progress on it, and (b) psychologically, my brain doesn't believe (a). If I don't feel like writing, I can generally convince myself to try to write for 20 minutes anyway. But convincing myself to keep trying to write until I've written 250 words is excruciating. Even though the results in both cases are nearly identical. This is my brain. YMMV.
On the other hand, if I do feel like writing, I'll often snatch minutes -- while walking, or at work, or at the grocery store -- to do some writing, and it's not really practical to track minutes in these situations. So tracking words, or progress, is good in those situations.
In general, tracking progress works if the project is something I'm eager to do, and tracking time spent works if it's something I'm eager to have done.
So: score keeping! Points for all creative activities! Scoring as follows:
- 1 minute = 1 standard point.
- 12 words = 1 standard point.
- Creator's Choice Bonus: Every 30 standard points in a Creator's Choice activity = 10 bonus points.
- Audience's Choice Bonus: Every 30 standard points in an Audience's Choice activity = 10 bonus points.
Completion points (Scored whenever I actually finish something)
- Sketch: 10 completion points
- Icon/Art Card: 25 completion points
- Colored image: 100 completion points
- Complex/large finished painting: 1000 completion points
- Journal entry*: 10 completion points
- Original fiction entry: 20 completion points
- Story outline: 100 completion points
- Short Story: 1,000 completion points
- Long Story: 10,000 completion points
* Very short posts / links don't count as an entry.
Subject to Revision
If I realize that my incentives are out of whack, or I have something else I want to add, I'll change this system
I am really not sure how this is going to work out. So my January goal is 50 total points per day, with the same caveat as last year -- I can get ahead but I can't fall behind.
My score so far today is:
750 words (most of this morning's entry was written yesterday): 62 points
2 journal entries: 20 completion points
I'm already ahead!
I'll have to revise either my goal or my scoring system if I consistently blog instead of writing fiction, but what the heck, I'll let myself get a head start for now.