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Obligation: Incentive to Write
What takes so long when writing a book isn’t how slow I write when I write, it’s how frequently & how long I don’t write at all.
I want to write a book about software design. I started 3 years ago but stalled after a good beginning. How could I create incentives for me to actually write?
If you have been following developments over at tidyfirst.substack.com you’ll have noticed that I started taking paid subscriptions. As a paid subscriber you get chapters as I finish them, about 1000 words a week. I expect the book to take about a year to write.
First big surprise has been how popular the paid subscription has been. I had about 1900 subscribers to the mailing list before the announcement. In the past 4 days I’ve added 400 free subscribers. 100 people are now paid subscribers, a mix of conversions & new subscribers.
Second big surprise has been the incentives effect on me. In absolute terms, like in relation to my retirement funding, the dollar values are not impressive. However, the sense of obligation I feel is substantial. These folks paid me money. I owe them.
And so, when I get a free half hour, instead of frittering it away I’m writing. Money, it turns out, is an effective incentive. (Yes, yes, it has all sorts of negative second-order effects. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. But still…)