I once asked Jerry Seinfeld about the Seinfeld Technique, the amazing productivity secret that supposedly explains his prolific joke-writing and consequent global success. It goes like this: every day that you manage to spend at least some time on your most important creative work, you mark a big red X on your calendar. The goal is not to break the chain of Xs.
It turned out he’d suggested it, once, to some guy in a comedy club, then largely forgotten all about it. “It’s so dumb it doesn’t even seem to be worth talking about,” he told me.
I’ve come to believe that the every-single-day version of this advice (which novelists are especially guilty of dispensing) is actively terrible. You can guess why: an every-single-day rule is so rigid, so intolerant of the vagaries of life, that you’ll inevitably soon fall off the wagon. And once that’s happened, you lose all motivation to continue – so you end up doing less, in aggregate, than if you hadn’t been quite so exacting in your demands. Instead, I’m a proponent of Dan Harris’s excellent alternative, offered in the context of developing a meditation practice, but relevant to many other important goals in life: aim to do it dailyish.