It’s what you’re told, time and time again, when you’re thinking about getting into writing as more than just a pipe dream. You have to write every day.
It needs to be a habit, a compulsion. The challenge, of course, is creating the habit.
Frankly, when it comes to this sort of thing, I have the self-discipline of that golden retriever on the (dis)obedience course.
It’s one of the reasons I got into rowing as ‘my’ sport. I HAVE to show up. If I don’t the crew can’t go out. If it’s just about me, it doesn’t happen.
For the record, I don’t row any more:
- Old injuries mean my hips and lower back would file abuse charges
- I’m living in the UK now, it’s just too damn COLD!
On the other hand, I am awesome at committing to things that challenge me. As a child, my flute teacher despaired of getting me to practice scales until he decided to try getting me doing them in thirds (so not just straight up and down, more of a two steps forward, one step back thing). That was hard, so I did it.
Online games, even the casual ones, are brilliant at this. Hitting you with enough challenge to push you, combined with enough reward to keep you from getting discouraged. Dig into the concept of ‘flow’ and you’ll know exactly what I’m going on about.
So, yes, I’m a fairly keen casual gamer, and there are a lot of us out there. According to this article on Techcrunch (from August 2019), the total gaming market is worth around US$152 billion, with 45% of that being mobile games (US$68.5 billion). Now that’s assuming all mobile games are casual and all casual games are mobile, which is a completely wrong assumption, but I’m running with it for now.
Casual gamers are also a bit older and a bit more female than most people tend to assume (51% of mobile gamers are female and average age is mid to late thirties – same article).
Now apply that thinking in turn to the writing world, as a rather awesome group of people in Costa Rica did, and you get 4thewords. It gamifies writing in a way that’s fun, challenging and obsessively habit-forming. And, particularly in the weirdness of recent weeks, their sense of community is one of the strongest I’ve seen.
I’ve been using this platform for ten months and am now at the stage where I feel actively uncomfortable if I haven’t spent a small part of my day writing.
According to my dashboard, so far I have written 351,183 words on their site, with a current writing streak of 91 days (WOW). A lot of it is never going to see the light of day, but some of it is good and I’m starting to see the possibility of a completed story.
Probably Thrushbeard initially, a short novella of around 28,000 words, and then I get to explore the terror of editing and deciding whether to publish.