Recently, I was at my mother’s for her 8oth birthday. We had a lovely dinner out for her (despite the snow) and I stayed an extra few days to spend time with her and also get some stuff done there. I enjoy spending time with her, and our time is more precious because of her advancing years and failing health. However, when I go there, it often means everything else come to a screeching halt. It’s really hard to focus on anything else, especially writing. This time, I came committed to the concept of No Zero Days. I didn’t get as much writing done as I would have at home, but it wasn’t a week off, either. Some days, I wrote. Some days, I meditated on character and scene development. I reminded myself how excited I was to continue the scene I’d started before I left.
The idea of No Zero Days is that you do something toward your goal each day, no matter how small. Something is infinitely better than nothing, especially where maintaining creative motivation is concerned. Can’t write for an hour? How about fifteen minutes of freewriting? How about re-reading what you wrote yesterday? How about 5 minutes meditating or mind-mapping on what might happen in the next scene? In other words, you never have a day when you do nothing.
Steven King might advocate for 2,000 words per day, but for most of us who are not full-time writers, and who don’t have people in our lives to handle all the other life “stuff,” that isn’t always realistic on a 365-days-per-year basis. But if we have too many Zero Days, it’s easy to get into the habit of not writing, and the longer we go without it, the harder it is to overcome that inertia and begin again. We have to find our way back into the story we’re telling. We have to find our way back into the creative space in our heads. It takes time and energy and intention, and if there are no externally-motivated deadlines, it can be easy to just let it slide another day. Soon we lack motivation, and become depressed. We’re not exercising our creativity, and we’re not making progress on our goals. Whereas if we keep connected in however small a way, we keep the flame alive.
When I returned home, I was able to pick up again with my regular writing schedule, and keep moving with little time wasted. A smooth transition!
I’m not sure exactly where this concept started – some people say it was on Reddit, and people can view the threads here: https://www.reddit.com/r/NonZeroDay/. There’s also a website here: https://www.nonzeroday.com/. Maybe you can create your own system. Whatever it takes, try committing to No Zero Days for a week, or a month. See how much more you get done, and how much more motivation you magically have. Action=Motivation!
Have you tried No Zero Days? How was it for you?