Write every day. Duh. Of course I mean to write every day—I always mean to. But usually, I don’t. Usually, I delude myself into believing that my ¬†guilt for not writing somehow counts as partial writing credit. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t).

The other day, though, I read this anecdote about Jerry Seinfeld telling an up-and-coming comic to mark off on a yearly calendar each day he composes jokes so that he could see his chain of progress. His advice, put simply: “Then just don’t break the chain.” For whatever reason (probably something to do with my insatiable urge to check things off, thereby giving my life the illusion of quantifiable meaning), this triggered a serious response in me.

I printed off a yearly calendar and decided to write 1000 words every day. So far, my chain of X’s is unbroken. I’m on day 21. Most of it isn’t pretty. I mean, this stuff is in for some serious revision. But the words are there. Existing in the world. And every day I know what lies ahead of me. I’m not sure if it’s the chain or the word count, but I’m onto a very healthy compulsion here.