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.)


  • Tanja V.
    January 3, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    That’s a really good method! Thanks for sharing :-D I also have the exact same calender and it’s beautiful, love it!
    AND DID I JUST READ – A NEW NOVEL??? I’m SO excited! I loved your books a lot and cannot wait!

  • Emily
    January 6, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    This is what the bada$$ girl squad of published authors is doing?! It’s so low tech, so obvious, so 7th grade! My planners lie hopelessly abandoned every year. Within weeks of purchase. Going to pull out my August to August this week and give it another go but this time with stickers! Thanks for passing along the wisdom .