Write While True Episode 42: Transcript

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I’m Lou Franco and this is episode 42 of Write While True.

Write While True is an infinite loop, and that’s because I think of writing as an infinite game. A game I play for fun and to get better at it. Like a game of catch.

So in each episode, I’ll tell you something I learned about writing, and then I’ll throw you the ball with a writing challenge or a prompt.


As I mentioned in the past two episodes, I’m trying to write a short book, and I want to share the process as I’m going through it. For example, to help me structure my time, I’m using the book “The Four Disciplines of Execution.”

In Episode 40, two episodes ago, I talked about the first discipline, which was about identifying the goal and defining it. I used the SMART goal template (S. M. A. R. T.) and defined my goal as publishing a 50-page book on a topic in my industry by the end of 2024. The goal is specific and measurable, and it has a time-bound. It will be easy to know if this goal is met, but having that goal doesn’t actually help me do it.

So in Episode 41, the last episode, I shared how I’m applying the second discipline. I defined an activity that I could do every day and a lead measure, a metric of that activity, that I could have as a goal for every week. The idea is that if I constantly achieve this lead measure, I believe that the larger goal will be achieved. My weekly goal is to spend at least one hour a day on five different days working on the book. It’s a goal that resets every week. That way, a bad week doesn’t derail me. Every Monday, I have a chance to try to win that week. But I have to remember to do it. Keeping this lead measure top of mind is what the third discipline is about. And that’s what I want to talk about next.

Last week, I said that an important aspect of the lead measure is that it’s very easy to track. I keep a paper journal. And so I know that if I worked on the book on any given day, I’ll know that because I’ll list it as a completed task on the page for that day. But I don’t want to have to look back at past journal pages to know how I’m doing for the whole week. I need to know my current score at any time. So in the third discipline, we make sure that we build a compelling scoreboard that’s really in our face. Something that we see all of the time.

I need to make sure that I’m constantly aware of how many days of the week I’ve written and how many days are left. This information needs to be somewhere where I’ll see it and so it has a chance to motivate me to stay on track. That’s why having it buried in past journal pages just doesn’t work. The information is there, but I won’t see it naturally as just part of my day. I have to consciously go and look for it.

There are a lot of ways that you could make this scoreboard. You could make a physical one, like just put a post-it note on the side of your monitor or write it really big on a whiteboard that’s in your office. For me, having it either on my watch face or as a widget on my phone’s homepage would work best. There’s almost no way for me to avoid it. I’ll see it many times each day.

So I found an app for my iPhone that’s called Chronicling that does exactly what I need. I put a link to it in the show notes. It can show a widget on my homepage that has seven dots, one for each day of the week. The dot is gray until I write and then mark it done in the app. Each week I just try to light up five dots.

When ever I unlock my phone, I see how I’m doing on the week and if I’ve done it today. I can also see if I have any rest days to spare. I’m constantly aware of my current score for the week and it reminds me to set aside time to write.

If I haven’t written by midday, I’m usually trying to figure out how I can schedule an hour to do it later. Seeing the scoreboard makes it much more likely that I will achieve the lead measure. Like I said, I believe that achieving that lead measure continuously will eventually result in me publishing that book.

It’s not for sure though, and that’s what the fourth discipline is about which I’ll talk about in the next episode.

But if you’re playing along with this podcast and you’re working on a large form writing project and you’re also using the four disciplines, you’ve already defined goal, what your writing project is and critically when it will be done. You’ve also set up some kind of achievable weekly goal. Mine is to write five days a week, but do whatever makes sense for you.

Now set up a compelling scoreboard, something that tells you how you’re doing on your weekly goal. It can be something physical like a post-it note or a whiteboard. Or if you have an iPhone, I would look at the Chronicling app. Look for something that puts a widget on your homepage, not an app that you have to open up to see your score.

This has been Write While True, a podcast where we love infinite loops as long as they’re fun.