Dean Wesley Smith originated this, back when he was coming up. It’s a point tally method of self-motivation that can also work well in groups. I’ve seen variations on these rules, as far as how points are awarded, but I use the system as originally devised.
It’s extremely simple:
1 point = every single piece of short fiction you have out to paying markets.
3 points = every novel synopsis + three chapters you have out to paying markets.
8 points = every complete novel you have out to paying markets.
Simultaneous submissions do NOT count!
As soon as something sells, its points come OFF the tally.
Previously sold work that is in the running for foreign sales, anthology sales, etc, goes back ON the tally.
At present, my tracking sheet shows that I have 12 individual short pieces of fiction submitted to paying markets. I therefore can award myself 12 points. If I were to get a novel synopsis + 3 chapters out the door by the end of June, I would jump my score to 15 points. If I added a new, whole novel by the end of July, it would jump to 21 points. And so on and so forth.
Dean says that everyone from the original Race group who kept their scores up in the 60 to 80 point range — or higher — eventually went on to become a working pro. Likewise, Dean says nobody who let their score stay down in the lower echelon — teens, twenties, etc. — made it as a working pro.
Scientific? Not really. But results speak for themselves. The emphasis is on consistent production, constant effort, and not taking forever to do revision or re-drafting. Also, no points if you don’t put it into the mail! So there is no excuse for sitting on work because you’re got the jitters. You can’t give yourself the points unless the work is in the mail.
Me? I’ve committed to doing The Race for several reasons: as a way to motivate myself, as a way to track and meter progress, and also as an experiment. I want to see if it’s true that if I can get my score up high, and keep it high, that I’ll move on to being a working pro. Not that I doubt Dean. I don’t. Rather, I’d like to be the latest “proof” that the Secret To Writing™ is no secret at all: write, submit, and refuse to give up.