I’ve always been a writer that sets lots of goals (heck, I’ve always been a PERSON that sets a lot of goals), but those goals tended to be flexible and non-numeric: write a chapter a day, finish this draft by the end of the month, write three books this year (ok, that had numbers, but they’re small).
Being an ex-engineer, you would think I would track everything with charts and graphs, like ninja writer Adam Heine. And I do that in many areas of my life, but not with the writing.
Then I did NaNo this year, while simultaneously launching Open Minds, and discovered the power of numbers to keep me on track with my writing as well.
Our brains are naturally wired to like numbers. Before you erupt into protests about how much math perplexes and tortures you, ponder this: Do you track how many followers you have on your blog? Do you pay attention to how many friends you have on FB or followers on Twitter? If the answer is NO, good for you! (Truly, those things will make you crazy.) But you’re fighting against the natural human impulse to track numbers and want them to change in a positive direction (usually up, but in the case of the scale in my bathroom, most definitely down). Every game known to man uses the principle of MORE POINTS = MORE BETTER. It’s not quite Pavlovian, but the reward centers in our brains light up when we cause a number to positively change. My mom (the psychologist) would call it Behavior Modification or possibly a form of biofeedback, where the “bio” part is your brain going nuts over reaching 500 followers (or some other nicely round numerical milestone).
Numbers have the ability to “feed back” the results of your efforts in a clear, unambiguous way. Being able to measure the results increases the intensity of the reward. (These speakers go to eleven!)
Back to writing.
Chasing that wordcount line for NaNo was such a powerful motivator, I found myself needing to create an psuedo-NaNo environment in December to complete my first draft by Christmas (#MissionAccomplished).
UPCOMING EVENT: The Indelibles are hosting a chat on INDIE PUBLISHING on Wednesday 1/18 from 8-9pm EST. If you have questions about Indie Publishing, between the 25 Indelibles authors there is a wealth of experience, and we are happy to pay forward what we’ve learned. I hope you can stop by!