Friday, August 24, 2012

Aspiring Advice: Write Or Die (A Radical New Therapy)

This is less an advisory post than sharing a motivational moment, or demotivational, however you want to see it (you've been warned).

But first, how about a little anecdote to get us going? (If there's one thing this blog needs more of, it's movie clips with Bill Murray in it!)

Pretty much how we feel after reading our first drafts, right?

Some of you may have heard of an app called Write or Die, which I was introduced to at our last inkPageant gathering. My revision was lagging a bit, so I investigated. This program is pure, downloadable, insanity. Seriously. It's like inviting a troll into your computer with a cattle prod. The point of this self-imposed virtual slap? It keeps you writing throughout a certain window of time. If you get distracted or procrastinate, the app starts messing with you. And punishes you. Relentlessly. It will even delete your lines if you allow it. Yeouch!

There's just one problem: you can turn it off. If one can discipline themselves to keep it on, and stay on track, there's really no point to having the app. That is, of course, if one needs it to get into the writing habit. Then I was thinking (uh oh), should I buy this?

This question posed a free alternative: What if I died tomorrow?

We don't like to think about, but it's a reality we all must face:

There's a point to all of this, so don't freak out.

Each day, I get old, a little closer to drawing the curtain on this thing I know as life. If this isn't the case for you, we should talk (we'll patent it and make millions, okay? - but no vampire bites. That won't fly).

While I intend to live a full life, writing as much as I can, I realized I ought to live each day to the fullest, writing or not. Set a manageable goal in the morning and say to myself, "I'm going to do this or I'm going to die." (There's a clover in my wallet - so jinx free, right?)

With that mindset, I found myself unstoppable this last week. Food? Sleep? What's all that about? It was a tremendous, if not radical motivational stunt that kicked my writing back into gear. If not to get published, to finish something, to leave for someone to find in the future (If you've ever read Cloud Atlas, you'll know what I mean).

This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter.

Everyone works at their own level of motivation, apps or no apps, vacations or jelly beans, which doesn't always work or may need altering at any time. This is what's worked for me lately. So wherever we are in our projects, the end is near *cough* ... of our book, of course. We can do it. When it's done, we can be like this guy:

What's your motivation to keep your writing on track? Any less drastic approaches that works for you? Ever try a fried Twinkie?

I'm David, and you're going to ... be awesome today!


  1. I usually use one of the NaNo incarnations to kick my writing into gear. I don't like to lose, so it keeps me focused.

  2. If sitting down to write is that tough for some people, maybe they just aren't cut out to be writers.

  3. Being held accountable helps. I think I might like that write or die app.

  4. I need to try that app. Lol

    Very motivational. I'd like to leave a lot behind when I go, so I better kick it into gear.

  5. I have to admit, the eerie thing is just last night I had the "I'm not going to grow up, Mommy, cause you're going to die" talk with my Chipmunk last night.

    Yeah, scary.

    But I told her last night what you mention here. Live life to the fullest. Enjoy and do your best.

    Doing monthly #writemotivation goals on my blog has been keeping me fairly grounded in forward progress since the beginning of the year. But having decided to self-publish my novel side-by-side with Gwen Gardner this October, my motivation is grounded in panic and the need to make sure I come through on what I need to make happen. The deadlines aren't just self-imposed, they must be met. That's some Write or die motivation.

  6. I'm such a procrastinator so this is timely for me. I need to force myself to finish something too.

  7. I've been toying with the idea of trying this. But I think it might just give me an anxiety attack. At least then I would have a reason to take a nap :) That was the point...right?

  8. PT Dilloway, I heartily disagree. I commend you if you are one of those for whom writing comes easy. I wish I were like you.

    But Write or Die is a GREAT app for me, and people like me who find that they have trouble focusing. It's a motivational tool to help us reach our goals. And when we get there, when we find what we need to help us be successful, LOOK OUT WORLD!

    I like Write or Die because you can set it up so that you are successful in small increments or larger increments... that it's customizable so that there's no reason for you to fail. Love it!

  9. Angela B., lol, we are going to come through this just fine. We can pretend we're college students and pull all-nighters if we have to! And, omg, your little Chipmunk is so precious!

    David, get the feeling you touched a couple of nerves? But really, we're very excited about our upcoming indie endeavor. Write or Die sounds scary - the stress might be too much for me, lol! So glad you found your mojo

    1. I heard somewhere that touching a few nerves is the mark of a good writer, something I don't do enough of, but yeah. I gotta have practice. That's why I began the post with a warning. I've read about your indie endeavor. Keeping my eye on it. :)

  10. I love What Abiut Bob! That and the Cloud Atlas ref make me incapa le of proper comment about motivation. Whatever works for you As you say, I have never tried the app though I do set my own goals and try and stick to them.

  11. I have my mum. She wants to read my WIP, but she can't read it before it's "ready" because she wants to know what happens next. So she asks me every now and then how the writing's going.
    I assume that "ready" mean written from start to finish, but the plot holes, sudden changes in characters personality and whatnot won't leave her scratching her head in dismay. Draft 7, I'd hope :P

  12. Write or Die might actually kill me as my writing time revolves around my kids, not the other way around. What does motivate me though is writing about those things for which I feel passion. A great line that's stuck inmy head begging to become a story. A review for an amazing book I read or sharing my story about using an epi -pen for the first time on my son, so others can learn from it and know they are not alone.

  13. Working with critique partners has made the biggest difference for me. They hold me accountable, and I don't want to let them down by making them wait too long for more to read. I think if I was left to motivate myself without someone holding me accountable, I'd find myself drifting to movies, TV or The Sims. It's nice having other people in your corner, encouraging you to keep going even when it gets hard.

  14. Having multiple writing groups always motivates me. I always have to have something to bring, and if I don't I feel terribly guilty. Plus one of our groups just started a "goal chart" where we can put stickers each week if we've written. I've always been a sucker for that kind of stuff. I love seeing my progress in cute sparkly frogs and seahorses. :)

  15. I agree--my own mortality is a great motivator, for writing and a whole lot of other things. And nope, never tried a fried Twinkie!

  16. Great post, David. I definitely am in a 'write or die' moment in my life right now. It's good to know that it's somewhere I go when I need an outlet.

  17. If I were to die today, I'd be really irritated that I hadn't fixed all the places where I apparently failed to hit the space bar in my almost finished 1st novel. *forehead smack*

    Great post, David!

  18. Yeah, I've heard of that. Intense! Glad it worked for you(at least the concept). I agree that if you can turn off the program, it would be too easy.

  19. If there is anything this world needs, it's more Bill Murray :D Please please PLEASE tell me you saw Zombieland...

    I like your approach! It's definitely one to get people moving on that WIP. I'll admit though that when I saw the title of this post the first thing I thought of was Anchorman.

    Write or die.

    "Well, that escalated quickly."


  20. Fried Twinkies sound gross.

    I've used the "what if I die tomorrow" to get a couple projects completed. I've found I write better/steadily with a specific deadline; which is why I've been writing short stories with specific themes and deadlines.

    I don't have the discipline to just sit and write every day; but I support those who do. A daily goal is awesome. One day I'm sure I will be able to stick to a small daily goal.

    Kudos to you David for not wasting money on a program that you already have installed in your writing tool box. Having found your incentive, I'm sure you will accomplish your daily goals. Go David go :)


  21. Omg I would have like cried if that kid was sitting in a room with me saying, "I'm going to die, you're going to die." Hahahahaha. It is very important to find a way of motivating yourself to keep writing. Messing with your own head might help to some extent, but I don't want to make myself unhealthily obsessed with my writing to the point that I'm staying up past midnight on a school night, fearing that the Slenderman will come and take me if I don't finish writing the next chapter of my WiP. Though maybe... hmmm... :) (considers using the Slenderman...)

  22. That sounds quite clever! The only thing is... I'm not scared of myself enough to MAKE myself write :( BOO!

  23. Awesome motivation! I've always wanted to try the Write or Die app, but I think this motivation is enough. Sometimes when I get really distracted, I'll set a stack of Chips Ahoy on my laptop and give myself one for every two pages written. That's just a measure of desperation, of course. ;)

  24. I only promise to write for 15 min. and it usually ends up being longer. I've also found if I do 15 min. writing, half an hour doing something else, 15 min. writing, etc... I can write much faster and accomplish more. It really is a kick in the butt that I am actually getting words on the paper, instead of 250 an hour, I can do 300 in 15 min.

  25. I'm pretty good about sticking my butt in my chair most of the time. No satellite/cable helps :)

  26. I've been on a five day streak of meeting my writing goals and it feels sooooo good! I think I just reach a certain point (much like my tolerance for a dirty clothes pile) where I just say, "enough is enough" and get my butt in gear. Now, I don't expect it to last, but it's been good while it's lasted :)

  27. Ouch! I don't think I'd ever let it delete my lines. Guess it'd be good motivation to not get distracted. :)

  28. that app is too stressful! i would have nightmares of the troll deleting my book in my sleep!

    and i worry i might die before publication. probably too frequently...

  29. love your choice of motivation--this is one of the best under the radar movies of all time---so many life lessons in it and just hilarious!!!!!!