Blog

Stories from a life in progress.

Game on

When I started looking over my taiji essays, one of the daunting things was the simple scale of the work.  There's a lot of work already done in the writing, but re-writing can be just as much work or more -- and I would need a good bit of re-writing to turn a bundle of essays into a unified whole, not to mention writing up any new essays (and I knew I would need at least one more to finish an important section).  I wasn't sure how much work or time it would take; it felt nebulous but big.  It was demoralizing.

I sat back in my chair after making my last notes and looked around my room, more than a little glum.  Nebulous-but-big projects are the worst.  You never know where you stand, and it's hard to gather up the motivation to keep working.

I looked at my closet doors, where the completed 40-day writing game board was still hanging.  I sat and looked at them for an embarrassing number of seconds before I realized what I was staring at.  You silly loon, I thought, what did you spend the last two months doing?  You know exactly how to deal with this taiji project.

Gameify it.

There are new sheets taped to my closet doors now, for my new game-in-process.  The Finish the Taiji Essays Game.

This one is trickier, because I really don't know where the end is.  It's not as convenient as the 40-day writing game in that respect.  So I'm using sub-games and points.  Whatever has a defined scope becomes a sub-game; one of them right now is "deal with all of the sticky notes I pasted into my manuscript after reading it," and the other is "revisit every single essay and rewrite whatever needs rewriting."  There are 13 sticky notes and 14 essays.  With hard numbers, it's easy to tell when I finish those games.

The sub-games have assigned point values.  When I finish a sub-game I get to add the points to my big game total.  It's not as satisfying as having a definite endpoint to work toward, but I haven't thought of a better solution yet.  At least it becomes a record of work accomplished; if I need to do more work, then I get more points and a better end score.  It's a weird mind trick, because the score doesn't mean anything according to any external standard, but there's still some appeal in scoring well.  This is my game and I'll make up the rules, thanks.

It's not perfect, this new game, but it's a start.  The nebulous-but-big ball of work is neither as large nor as nebulous as it used to be.  I have clear assignments, and now I just have to get to work.