Games Writers Play #6: Pages Before Play

Scott William Carter   February 23, 2010  

gwpIf you’ve followed my blog, you know I’ve written about the Pages Before Play principle before, but it’s so effective that it deserves a mention here.

The basic idea is this: You withhold all activities you enjoy until you’ve met your page quota for the day.

It’s simple, isn’t it? Surfing the Internet, reading books, watching television or movies, playing video games — whatever you do for fun in your free time, you don’t allow yourself to do those things until you’ve met your quota. The idea is to use those activities as extra motivation to get your pages done — and not only done, but done sooner and faster.

More than any other principle, this is one I’ve tried to live by. I’ve found it to be one of the most effective ways to keep myself focused. My big Achilles heel is the Internet. It’s easy to tell myself I’m just going to check my email, five minutes tops, and the next thing I know I’m off ogling a gadget on Gizmodo or arguing with some pinheaded pundit (in my head of course) on Politico. Before I know it, an hour is gone — and the time I would have devoted to writing some new pages is gone with it.

But I also have to say: Although it’s a deceptively simple game, and tremendously effective, I’ve also found it to be incredibly difficult in actual practice. I’m always falling off the wagon. Temptations abound, after all.

That’s okay. You’re going to fall off the wagon. Just get back on again. It’s also a great game to whip out now and then as a corrective measure, when you find your productivity dropping. You want to watch Lost? All right, buddy, then get those pages done.

(A lot of people use a variation of this game, but here’s a hat tip to two of them who emailed me something along these lines:: Michael Jasper and Cyn Balog)

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