Taking the day off?

by Doc Coleman on July 19, 2013 · 2 comments

in Asides

Some days, you burn the candle at both ends. And some days, you add a blow torch to burn the middle as well. My dayjob has been increasingly intense since the beginning of May this year, and that has stretched a lot of my available energy very to the very breaking point. My last writing chain ended because of this back in the end of May. Between work and writing, I went to my breaking point, and I broke. And my writing chain went as well.

So now, I’m reaching a new high point for my writing chain…

Yup. I’m reaching that breaking point again. Except now I’ve leveled up and I’m doing more work each day to meet my daily quota to keep my writing chain going. I’ve managed things better this time, but I can’t help but think that sometimes you just need to take a day off. I know that other people have managed to build much longer writing chains, but I don’t know how strenuous their environment has been while doing so. There are a lot of ways to maximize available writing time, and I’ve used a number of them. But they all depend on being conscious to write. Sleep writing remains an elusive goal.

But the Magic Spreadsheet doesn’t really give the leeway to take a day off, even if it means catching up on sleep and refreshing the body and mind. So, if I decide I need to take a day off, that means breaking my chain and starting over. This is do-able. I’ve done it twice already, after all. The real question is how willing am I to break my own chain?

Now I’m sure that some folks out there have their own ways to game the system. After all, the whole thing runs on the honor system. There’s no authority to come behind us and verify our daily word counts, so some people might just fudge their word counts. Either skipping a day and then making up the word count after the fact, or making an effort to “write ahead” and crediting the overage to days they know they won’t be writing. Some people would call that cheating. Others would say that it is a reasonable way to manage a binge writing habit, and that the important thing is to build a regular writing habit, not necessarily to write each and every day.

Of course, others may be willing to game the system without technically cheating. A number of people do this for NaNoWriMo. They stay up past midnight on October 31st, and go ahead and do their first writing sprint starting at 12:01 AM on November 1st and credit it as their first day’s worth of writing. Then they go to sleep, wake up, and do another day’s worth of writing, thus starting NaNo with two days worth of writing on November 1st. A similar tactic can be used with the spreadsheet. Write for a given day, credit it to that day, and then stay up until after midnight and write again to credit it to the next day. Then not writing again until the following day.

But is it worth it?

Yes, you could game the system in a number of different ways, but what are you really gaining? Who are you pulling one over on? There isn’t a Magic Spreadsheet Review Board to hoodwink. You’re really defeating yourself. After all, the whole purpose of the Magic Spreadsheet is to make it fun to keep up with your writing. They only person holding you to it is yourself. So, why game the game?

The answer, of course, is because the game really IS fun. It is a very useful tool, and I don’t want to stop playing. Magic Spreadsheet has gotten me writing and kept me writing, hugely improving my productivity this year. It helped me finish a short story, and helped me push through the entire second draft of my novel. I intend to use it to get through this year’s NaNoWriMo, and to finally finish last year’s NaNo Novel. And to push through a Third and Fourth draft of Perils of Prague. I get so tired from everything I’m doing, and I want to take a day off, but I don’t want to stop playing the game. I want to continue my writing chain, not have to start over again. So I keep finding my self asking, Do I want to take a day off, or don’t I?

I’d really like to be able to earn a day off. How’s that for a concept? I know that when you earn enough points to level up you don’t have to level up immediately. You can wait and keep writing at the lower level. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could earn a level, and then spend that level on keeping your chain alive when you miss a day instead of leveling up? Wouldn’t that be interesting?

I guess that really depends on if you think that would be a penalty. As you level up, your quota gets higher and higher, and the points required to reach the next level get exponentially higher. But the limiting factor for leveling up is really your consistency score. The longer your chain, the more points you earn. So, if you spent a level point to keep your chain alive… you’re not really taking a hit in terms of reaching the next level. Maybe it isn’t such a good idea.

Oh, well. At least I got my words in for today.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ovidia July 20, 2013 at 6:58 am

I love the idea! Maybe each time we level up we could get a free day token that we can cash in when we need to? You can accumulate these or exchange them for more points?

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2 Doc Coleman July 20, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Now that is an interesting idea. Earn a token that you can save, cash in for more points (and level up faster), or use to get a day off without breaking the chain. Being able to cash it in for points might help to re-balance the game. I don’t know that they would be able to implement something like that any time soon, or even if they’d want to, but it does sound more workable. But the guys have their hands full enough keeping the spreadsheet going right now. I don’t think they’ll be changing the rules of the game any time soon.

Doc

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