The Jerry Seinfeld Chain
By Corey Mandell
Earlier this month I posted a blog on How to Become a Professional Writer detailing the importance of writing consistently. Over the next few weeks I’d like to share some specific tools that have helped me and others overcome the self-sabotage, resistance and inertia that can sometimes make consistency difficult.
Today’s tool is the Jerry Seinfeld chain.
Brad Isaac writes the following in his motivational strategies blog, Achieve IT:
Years ago when Seinfeld was a new television show, Jerry Seinfeld was still a touring comic. At the time, I was hanging around clubs doing open mic nights and trying to learn the ropes. One night I was in the club where Seinfeld was working, and before he went on stage, I saw my chance. I had to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. What he told me was something that would benefit me a lifetime…
He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.
He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.
He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.
Because not writing one day makes it so much easier to not write the next day. Or to put it another way. Writing every day is habit forming. Not writing every day is habit forming.
Which habit do you want?