Chris Bailey has some good advice for lazy writers

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post by Chris Bailey….

I’m a longtime fan of productivity expert Chris Bailey (pictured above). He’s Canadian, like me, but that’s not why I like him. I have a theory that we are twins who were separated at birth. We are both productivity zealots. He tends to focus on productivity in a general sense while I apply it to the more specific and area of writing.

I read his blog regularly, but his May 1/18 post is one of my favourites. In it, he addresses the topic: Too lazy to work out, eat well, or save money? Bribe yourself with habit points.

The words “lazy” and “bribe” both captured my attention. Here’s what he suggests: If you have trouble sticking to certain habits (such as writing), reward yourself with habit points that you can redeem to indulge in guilty pleasures such as watching too much Netflix.

In his own words, here’s how he uses the system himself:

  • Going to the gym: 2 points;
  • Each additional 250 calories burned beyond my daily goal: 1 point;
  • Fasting for 14 hours: 1 point;
  • Each 10 minutes of meditation: 1 point;
  • Performing one act of kindness: 1 point.

He also automatically gives himself three points each day. This way, he can still indulge in vices even when he don’t invest in his habits—albeit at a significantly reduced rate.

Now for the fun part… here’s how he redeems those habit points:

  • One alcoholic drink: 5 points
  • One large bag of chips: 20 points
  • One massage or pedicure: 20 points
  • Large Chinese delivery order: 25 points
  • Large pizza delivery order: 35 points

I like the way he’s structured his system so that he has to work pretty hard to redeem major points for something that’s not entirely healthy (e.g. that large pizza delivery order.)

Chris also offers some excellent tips on how to set up your own system. If you’re a writer (or an aspiring writer) who’s making too many excuses for yourself lately, I suggest you read his column and start rewarding yourself with some bribes.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on May 7/18.

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