So why not? This month, I've compiled my personal list of resources I've actually found extraordinarily useful.
(Note: these are for the writing process itself. For publishing, every brand new writer must know Agentquery.com, Publishersmarketplace.com, and Absolutewrite.com.)
Now back to the fun part with one of the silliest tools every invented, which actually works.
The idea behind WrittenKitten.net is ridiculously simple. You write into in a window on the page, and every time you cross another hundred words (or two hundred, or five hundred), it displays another picture of a kitten (or puppy, or bunny, it's adjustable). On the surface, this either sounds like the greatest or dumbest idea ever, because it is.
There's absolutely no logical reason this should be remotely helpful. It's not designed to be particularly cheat-proof. You can type gibberish and make cats appear if you want. For that matter, the internet overflows with other sites full of all the cute cats you could want, no strings attached.
The quality of the Written Kitten pictures isn't even all that great. There's no vault of kitten or puppy or bunny pictures certified cute enough for Written Kitten. The pictures are drawn at random from Instagram based on keywords, so sometimes you'll get an adorable kitten, sometimes it's a person holding a cat in a poorly framed selfie, sometimes it's a kid's drawing of a kitten that the parents posted with “kitten” as one of the hashtags.
So is it about crossing those word count thresholds themselves? Well, any word processor will keep track of your word count, so if you're paying attention and can do basic math, you can watch for those milestones there.
And yet on writer’s block days, combining a fresh word counter for your current writing session with a rotation of mediocre-grade cat pictures means the difference between a day of screen staring and churning out a thousand words toward a workable draft. At least it does for me.
I'm sure there's some kind of quantifiable psychology at work here, explaining why an artificial sense of accomplishment can motivate when real accomplishment isn't doing the trick. The hit-or-miss nature of the pictures probably enhances the effect rather than detracting from it, the way dogs are more likely to do tricks if they're rewarded unpredictably than if they’re rewarded every time, or the way gambling games compel you to try just one more round even when you're losing.
Whatever it is, I'm happy to let it work its magic on me, and if you're as susceptible to the allure of arbitrary measures of accomplishment as I am, I highly recommend it.
Agree? Disagree? Comments are always welcome! Or keep up with my fictional musings by joining me on Facebook, on Twitter, or by signing up for email updates in the panel on the right!