TLDR: The X-Effect can be positive for some people in some situations, but in general it’s better for your vitamins than for your pleasure.
At the beginning of the summer I started doing two x-effects. You can learn everything you need to know about the x-effect here.
Basically it’s a mechanism for habit development and personal accountability. You write the task that you want to make into a habit and your reason for developing the habit on one side of an index card and on the other you write x’s in a seven by seven grid for each day that you accomplish the task. My two tasks were meditation and writing.
If I meditated for more than 6 minutes, I got an x. If I wrote for more than 15 minutes, I got an x. By the time I called it quits (quits to the record keeping, not the habits) I had meditated 78 out of 84 days and written 67 out of 72 days.
Reflecting on the process, I found the x-effect much more helpful for meditation than for writing. I wanted to meditate in order to have more peace of mind, more energy, and less stress. Meditation is liking taking my vitamins. I don’t really want to do it, but I think it’s good for me.
Writing is different. I don’t write to feel better. I don’t write for my health. I don’t want to force myself to write every day. I want to WANT to write. I don’t think the x-effect is conducive to this sort of habit.
I know there are writers out there who are all about the discipline and per-day word count mandates, and there are writers who have to put bread on their table, but I’m not either of those. My writing feels stale when forced.
In conclusion, the x-effect was an interesting exercise, but it started feeling like another chore. I plan to keep writing and meditating, but I’m no longer recording it or sticking to a daily requirement.