Over in our Killers and Poets Facebook group, we’ve been talking about a quote from my friend Susan Garrett.
Susan is a multiple worldwide champion in the sport of dog agility. She’s also a brilliant animal trainer and runs an incredibly successful business. Different versions of this quote have inspired many of her friends and customers:
“Champions in any field make a habit of taking things that other people find boring or uncomfortable and turning them into a game for themselves.”
– Susan Garrett
It’s a riff on another quote about getting tough and doing what others don’t want to do. Which is great and all, but most of us … don’t really feel like doing boring or uncomfortable stuff.
But figuring out a game that we want to play every day? That sounds like a lot more fun.
This week, I asked our writing team about the elements of their professional work they’ve successfully turned into games. Here’s what they came up with:
I’m always “in competition” with the last few articles I wrote. I want to make sure I’m pushing my abilities with each new piece of writing.
Reviewing my recent content before starting on a new draft also helps me spot ideas I may have touched on previously but want to clarify and explore further.
Comments from previous posts also inspire new topics.
It’s a great example of the flexibility of blogging — especially for those waiting for “the perfect moment” to publish their first blog post.
While you want to share writing that is thorough and valuable, you can’t predict how your content project is going to unfold.
Each post is just the next step in a piece of performance art that takes shape as you work on it.
Art can be a game.
Admittedly, I’m not much for gamification, but I suppose I do have one “game” that helps me write, and the name of the game is “Stick With It.”
Whether it’s an article I’m just not quite feeling, or keeping up with my regular posts on RIDEWELL, the one strategy I’ve found that works for the long term is to stay with it, to keep working at it.
The other day, I heard a radio interview with an author (I don’t remember who it was, but if you’re familiar with it, let us know in the comments!) who said something like:
“It’s not that experience helps you become a better writer; it just gets easier to be patient with yourself, with your crap.”
To get to the good stuff, you have to have faith in your work. You have to stay with it long enough for it to become something worthwhile. If you can summon the patience to let yourself work through all the “bad” stuff and still keep writing, you win.
VP of Multimedia Production
Not sure if it’s a game, a really weird poem, or both, but I can’t stop looking at Jack Kerouac’s 30-point checklist, titled “Belief and Technique for Modern Prose.”
I have this posted on my wall as a portal into Kerouac’s mysterious brain.
Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
Submissive to everything, open, listening
Try never get drunk outside yr own house
Be in love with yr life
Something that you feel will find its own form
Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
Blow as deep as you want to blow
Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
The unspeakable visions of the individual
No time for poetry but exactly what is
Visionary tics shivering in the chest
In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
Like Proust be an old teahead of time
Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
Accept loss forever
Believe in the holy contour of life
Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
You’re a Genius all the time
Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven
“You’re a Genius all the time,” FTW.
Chief Content Officer
It turns out, I’m the kind of person who responds to games and gamification.
I wouldn’t have thought so, but my Fitbit tells me otherwise — joined by my Minecraft builds, my Pokémon Go account (ask me about my Shiny Gyarados), and my Sudoku addiction.
Pointless rules, preferably accompanied by some kind of scoring system, just work for me. And that makes my days more interesting and helps me with the significant volume of content I write and record every week.
Here are some of the “writer games” I’ve particularly enjoyed.
- The “imaginary points” game. I give myself one point per minute I spend on frustrating or uncomfortable projects. I turn my points into dollars in my budget for art supplies or shoes!
- The “find the connection” game. Look for non-obvious connections between any two things, then write about them. Like creativity and Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Or email marketing and fancy soap.
- The “don’t break the streak” game. I like to do 30-day runs on habits I want to strengthen, like meditation, coming up with content ideas, or answering email. I particularly enjoy the Seinfeld variant of marking a calendar with a giant red X for each day you do your streak activity. This is a great game to play for a daily writing habit, of course!
- The “count the outreach events” game. I’ll keep a daily score of how often I reach out to potential freelancing clients, new course subscribers, or content publishers I haven’t met yet. If you’re uncomfortable with prospecting or promotion, this can help you break through that resistance.
- The “daily pomodoros” game. How many pomodoros can I spend writing today? Can I beat yesterday’s score?
- The “high score” game for views or shares. How’s this week’s content doing? How does it compare with last week’s performance? Last month’s?
How about you?
Have you ever turned a writing or business task into a game? How did that work out for you? Let us know in the comments!