Gold Stars
Posts On Writing

The Star Sticker Method: Does It Really Work?

National Novel Writing Month is over! Every year I feel like it is the longest month of my life, and then BAM. It’s December.

This year for NaNoWriMo, in tandem with the normal manners of accountability, I decided to see if I could amp up my productivity and word count by using Alexa Donne’s Star Sticker Method. And now that the month is over, the results are in and I can tell you how it went!

Results

Around the beginning of November, I published a blog post announcing I was going to give the Star Sticker Method productivity tool a shot and I laid out a few outcomes I hoped to see:

  1. Higher word counts
  2. Higher motivation
  3. Exceed 50,000 words this year

Did I see higher word counts?

Yes! Every day, I exceeded my goal word count goals by at least a few hundred because I was continually reminded that if I got just a few more words, I could get another star. The crazy thing was each time I did this, I would hit another flow state and rack up even more words.

Did I experience higher motivation?

I did! Giving myself stickers every day was so much fun I looked forward to choosing the different colors and doing the math to figure out how many of each size I could have. However, I enjoyed rewarding myself the stickers much more on the nights I did not write my brain into a jelly. 

Did I keep writing after I hit 50k?

Absolutely. This is a huge win for me because every year so far, I’ve burned out after I reached the goal. This year, I finished with ten days left to spare, and still had enough steam to keep going. The caveat is I was no longer working for stars by this time because I was too exhausted to do the math to award them and continue to write. Something had to give.

Observations

A lot of good came out of this experiment for me, but I think I picked a terrible month to test it. The National Novel Writing Month team has a lot of motivators built into their website, like graphs and progress bars, that helped me more than the stickers at the end of the month. After 50k, it took the rest of the energy I had left to keep writing and update the NaNoWriMo website, and I just had to let the stickers go. 

Sticker Chart

I really, really want to try this again, though. I think it will be a better test if I did it any other time than National Novel Writing Month. I’m already intrinsically motivated by the competition itself, and in order for me to really see how well it works for me, I need to use it on its own. So, don’t be surprised if you see me attempt this experiment again.

The last thing I realized was that I found the stickers to be way more motivating if I awarded them to myself right after I had written. As I mentioned, I had many nights in which I wrote myself into a paste. Those nights, I didn’t bother rewarding myself with stickers for my word counts and just went straight to bed. While it was fun catching up my sticker rewards, the nights I finished my word counts for the day and immediately got stickers were the nights the reward system worked the best. So I think if I were to do this over, I’d require myself to take care of the stickers right away.

In conclusion, does the star sticker method work for me? Yes! Did I find to be fun, engaging and motivating? Yes! Would I recommend this method of productivity for people who are struggling to get words on the page? Absolutely!

I’m really glad I tried this method. I would highly recommend you to give it a try to see if it works for you as well!

What productivity system do you currently use? Why does it motivate you? Let me know in the comments below!

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