Last week, 99u published an article of mine entitled “How I Kept a 373-Day Productivity Streak Unbroken.” At the time I wrote the article, the streak was, indeed, at 373 days. On the day the article was published, I think it was up to 393 days. And on Monday of this week, I hit 400 consecutive days of writing. The 99u article has turned out to be, by far, the most popular article I’ve written. As of this morning, it has been shared more than 4,400 times. I don’t know if that counts as viral, but it is both amazing and humbling to me. I have received more feedback on the article than for anything I’ve written before, fiction or nonfiction, and all of it, every last tweet, email, and comment, has been positive. Which, of course, delights me.
One result of all of this is that I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the streak, so this post serves as a place to point people for the most common questions and my answers. Keep in mind that I am writing this post on the 401st day of my consecutive day streak.
You can find the FAQ below.
What 400 consecutive days of writing looks like?
It looks like this:
Incidentally, the data behind the chart comes from my Google Docs Writing Scripts, and is collected automatically each night. The chart itself comes from my open.jamierubin.net site which has real-time metrics about my writing.
What counts as writing in this streak?
I get asked quite a bit if edits count as part of my writing streak. For me, they do, but in truth, on days where I am line editing, I am also writing new material, usually on a completely different project. The writing for the streak includes:
- Any fiction or nonfiction intended for eventual submission and publication.
- Any draft or edits of the above.
The writing streak does not include my blogging.
How much writing have I done in 401 days?
- 379,042 words. If you assume that the standard length of a science fiction novel is 90,000 words, that is the equivalent of 4.2 novels worth of writing.
- An average of 945 words per day.
- An average of about 35 minutes spent writing each day.
- On my best day, I wrote 5,384 words.
- On my worst day, I wrote 20 words. But they were 20 words that moved an important part of the story forward.
Okay, but what have you actually produced during the streak?
- 1 novel draft (~95,000 words)
- 1 partial second draft of a novel, including several restarts and do-overs.
- 3 short stories, consisting of a total of 7 drafts.
- 1 novella consisted of 2 drafts (so far).
- 7 nonfiction articles consisting of 12 drafts.
- About 6 guest posts consisted of about 12 drafts.
Fine, but what have you actually published during the streak?
Here is the complete list of stories and articles I’ve published during the 401-day writing streak so far:
- “Flipping the Switch” (short story) which appeared in Beyond the Sun edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt (August 2013)
- “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” (article) which appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine (November 2013)
- “Big Al Shepard Plays Baseball on the Moon” (short story) which appeared in InterGalactic Medicine Show (January 2014)
- “How I Wrote 400K Words in a Year” (article) which appeared in The Daily Beast (June 24, 2014)
- “The FitBit for Your Car” (article) which appeared in The Daily Beast (July 8, 2014)
- “Self Tracking for N00bz” (article) which appeared in The Daily Beast (July 24, 2014)
- “The Best Self-Tracking Site You’ve Never Heard Of” (article) appeared in The Daily Beast (August 5, 2014)
- “How I Kept a 373-Day Productivity Streak Unbroken” (article) appeared at 99u (August 18, 2014)
Because of the way the publishing world works, I have at the time of this writing, 2 more articles for The Daily Beast in the pipeline, and a guest post over at SF Signal in the pipeline as well.
So wait, the streak doesn’t include your blogging, but you still managed to blog during the streak?
Yes. I try to blog every day, although I skips days much more frequently than I used to. Here is what my blogging looked like during the same 401 days:
Blogging amounted to 268,000 words, or about 670 words/day. When added to my regular daily writing, that brings the total writing each day, including blogging to about 647,000 words, or a daily average of 1,600 words/day. Put it all together and it looks like this:
How long do you plan to keep this up?
As long as I can. But, if I have to pick a number, I’m aiming for 2,633 consecutive days. Cal Ripkin, Jr. holds the major league baseball record for the most consecutive games played. It’s 2,632.
What happens when the streak comes to an end?
Well, it will inevitably come to an end. Understanding that makes everything easier. Indeed, it has already happened once. My current streak (401 days as of today) is part of a larger streak totaling 544 out of the last 546 days. Last summer, after going for 140 consecutive days, I missed non-consecutive days in the same week, while attending the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop in Laramie, Wyoming. But, I started fresh on July 22, 2013, and haven’t missed a day since.
But what about recharging your batteries? Don’t you get tired of writing every day?
There are absolutely days on which I think, ugh, I just don’t feel like writing today. There are other days when I feel blocked on a particular story or article. But the thing is, I love to write. On the days where I don’t write, I feel more stressed. The act of writing is a stress release for me.
I overcome the tough days in two ways: first, I always have multiple projects to work on. If one doesn’t move, another will. I write fiction and nonfiction, so if the fiction isn’t working, I can move to nonfiction, and vice versa.
Second, on the days where my heart just isn’t in it, I tell myself to sit and write for 10 minutes. Ten minutes isn’t that long. Almost every time this has happened, I end up writing far more than 10 minutes. I’ve discovered that, for me, it’s getting started that’s hard on the days where my heart isn’t in it. Once I get started, I quickly get back into what I’m working on.
How can I follow along and see how many days your streak has reached?
You can find realtime information about my streak, and other aspects of my writing over at open.jamierubin.net.