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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Writing Students Score Success with Stars (and Other Tricks to Track Your Writing)

star stickersLast year, I took a risk with students in my Writing Habit class. I gave them a simple table to track what they do for Process, Product Time and Self-care (the three habits that are the bedrock of this class and my own writing practice).

Here’s the risky part: I also gave them a sheet of colorful stars to stick on the tracking sheet when they showed up. I was worried they might be insulted by the kindergarten approach, but I knew how effective those silly little stars can be.

A few students had reservations, but even they were convinced by the third week. Not by me. By the students who used the stars and raved about how consistently they met their goals and how good it felt to keep the promises they made to themselves. 

It’s hard to argue with success. It’s even harder to argue with pride and gleeful enthusiasm.

Writing habits make a writer (which is why I keep teaching the Writing Habit class). You can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to build the habits you need when you track your progress.

And apparently you significantly increase the fun when you  track your progress with stars.

Those silly stars and simple tracking sheet illustrate how the KISS principle applies to tracking your writing.

Click here to see a Sample Tracking Sheet completed with stars.

KISS: Keep It Simple and Seen

The system you use for tracking needs to be easy to use, readily accessible and something you notice.

Use whatever tool is easy, inviting and rewarding. You might want to give yourself colorful stars on a chart on your office wall. Or use a legal pad on your desk or a Moleskine notebook in your pocket. You could use a table in Word (and virtual stickers) or a spreadsheet. Your system could be a simple goal tracking or time tracking app for your phone, tablet or laptop.

If it takes you more than three clicks of the mouse or more than 30 seconds of searching your physical space to access your tracking system, it probably needs to be simplified and made more visible.

Use whatever works without you having to work too hard to make it work. Keep It Simple and Seen.

What tracking system do you use? Do you have a tracking trick you want to share?

More tricks for tracking your writing coming soon. And yes, I still hand out stars to students in my Writing Habit class.

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6 Comments on “Writing Students Score Success with Stars (and Other Tricks to Track Your Writing)”

  1. karenstinson May 18, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

    You are so great and informative. It’s time for me to take a class of yours again. Karen Stinson karenstinson@mac.com 612-940-3276



    • rosannebane May 19, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

      Thanks Karen! I sent you an email with info on upcoming classes.


  2. Joel D Canfield May 18, 2015 at 8:44 am #

    Can you show us a sample tracking sheet? Love the stars and want to give this a try.


    • rosannebane May 18, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

      Hi Joel, I added a sample tracking sheet to the post.



  1. Track Your Way Out of Writer’s Block: Tricks of Tracking #3 | Bane of Your Resistance - December 1, 2016

    […] Click here to see a Sample Tracking Sheet completed with stars (and here’s why I use stars). […]


  2. Set, Ready, Go! More Tricks of Tracking Your Writing | Bane of Your Resistance - May 28, 2015

    […] Click here to see a Sample Tracking Sheet completed with stars (and here’s why I use stars). […]


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