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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Amusing. But Good?

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Over at Medium, Jeff Goins lays out "8 Simple Steps I've Used to Write 5 Bestselling Books." I think most of the advice is good, but am not so sure about Item 6, on setting a due date. That said, the following method of enlisting help to meet a deadline made me smile:

A friend of mine, a talented writer, did this recently when he wanted to finish a book he'd been thinking about for years. Fearing he might never reach the last page, he wrote a check to a political candidate he hated, and post-dated it for X months in the future. Then he gave the check to a friend with strict instructions to mail it if he had not completed his book by that date.
This is funny, and it seems to have worked for the writer who came up with it, but is this generally good advice? I think the answer here is: It depends. What problem is one trying to solve? There can be numerous legitimate reasons one can't complete a book by some deadline, particularly a first book, and particularly if the deadline is arbitrary in any way. So if one has not set a realistic, but still challenging time goal, this tactic can backfire. But if, knowing oneself to have a tendency to procrastinate, and knowing, further, that being nudged by others helps one past psychological inertia, something like this can be helpful -- IF one has found a way to set a reasonable deadline.

On that last score, some advice on iteratively chopping goals in half I vaguely recall can probably help. (If anyone recalls the name of this process, or something that this sounds like, please feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line.) As I recall -- but haven't time to verify this morning -- one breaks the goal into chunks, and those into chunks and so on until one reaches tasks of known duration. Then one can construct a time line. Doing this would dovetail with Goins's other idea of creating a schedule, which would enable one to leverage very effectively having a set routine.

 -- CAV

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