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The Best Writing Trick: The Star Sticker Calendar

I just turned in a revision on my new novel, and the star sticker method saved me. It’s magical. It makes me feel like I’m Hermione in Transfiguration Class earning 10 points to Gryffindor every single day. It’s that good.

I borrowed the idea from Victoria Schwab, who I think adapted it from Jessica Spotswood, who adapted it from Erin Bow, who adapted it from the Don’t Break The Chain method. But it’s something that has been making the rounds in YA author circles, so I figured I’d share it.

What you need:

  • monthly calendar. (Mine is sold out, but it’s from Orange Circle Studio on Amazon. Here’s a similar one)
  • colored sticker sheets. Stars or hearts work. (I like hearts because I’m still mildly traumatized from a star chart in my third grade math class, which I maybe used in the opening pages of Extraordinary Means. Pain is art, guys.)

What you do:

  1. Make a legend. Write down things to work on throughout the month. If you’re a writer on deadline, it’s probably “write 500 words.” If you’re working on your first novel, “write 100 words” might be better. I like to add other things to the calendar besides writing. That way, the days when I don’t write aren’t Fail Days. Things like “gym” or “read 50 pages” or “wedding planning” or “revise 10 pages” work well.
  2. Choose a different sticker for each thing.
  3. Every day that you do the thing, you get a sticker! If you write 1000 words, you get two 500-word stickers.
  4. That’s it! Do not underestimate the power of the sticker. The sticker will make you keep writing when you have 800 words so you can reach 1000. I solemnly swear.

Here’s my December calendar– mischief managed! (And yes, that is a Slytherin pen.)


The Beginning of Everythi–sorry, apparently I’ve already used that title

I know, I know. I’m practically the last person on the planet to start a blog. But here it is anyway, peering up at you from the front page of my website. A blog.

And you’re probably peering back, thinking

Except, in your mind, it isn’t a movie quote. It’s a movie quote as metaphor for my utter lack of originality.

Which is perfect, because people who mentally GIF movie quotes as metaphors are exactly who should be reading this blog!

Want recommendations of my top surrealist party games? Coming right up. A roundup of the best leather jackets for secretly cosplaying as Neil Gaiman? Check. A video tutorial of a crown braid that actually works, unlike every other hair tutorial that has made me want to scream after wasting ten minutes watching? I’ll do that too. Plus book recommendations, and weekend guides, and photos of the ridiculous outfits I wear on writing deadline, and updates on my wedding, and an emergency guide to caring for unwanted houseplants, in case you accidentally throw a housewarming party and people bring you orchids instead of wine. Plus, I should probably let you know when I have a book or a movie coming out, so let’s do that, too. It’ll be a glorious, hilarious mess. Just like my makeup drawer. Or my dinner parties.

God, I really have no business keeping a blog. But then, plenty of people do things they’re woefully unqualified for. It’s very America 2017. Also, since we’re here, be sure to sign up for the newsletter on the side of this page, which will be sent out, um, eventually?