Monday, December 5, 2011

Put time on your side.

So since my last post I've been having quite a bump in productivity. One reason seems to be standing out more than others.

Tracking, plain and simple. I'm documenting exactly how long I spend with my butt in the chair actually working. Not on facebook, twitter or doing anything else on the internet. If I do that, time comes off my total.

My daily goal is still 3500 words, including new words and revised scenes. And I'm still keeping myself accountable to that goal. As a result, it's also very easy to stop when I reach that goal.

But when I exceeded the goal after only an hour and a half of work on a Sunday? When I had no other obligations and no day job that day? Suddenly it looked like I hadn't done shit, quite frankly. So I worked for another hour and ended the day at almost 8000 words added to the draft. And that felt damn good.

But a little part of me was thinking I should have started earlier in the day because only two and half hours. That's not that long... :)

I recommend tracking your writing time to everyone. When you're ready to throw in the "I've written enough today" towel, check out the actual time you've put in. Then ask yourself if that time (considering all your other commitments and the priority level you put on your writing) is in line with your goals.

When you do the math - in this case, add up the time - it can really improve your output. It's working for me! In five days, I've added 24k to my draft.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Math – it does serve a purpose for writers!

I know we all cringe at the dreaded math. I know I do! My boyfriend is a programmer, so I’ve gone as far as asking him to do division for me in his head so I don’t have to bust out my Windows calculator.

But math can be really important to help you keep track of what you are and aren’t doing when it comes to your writing.

I have to confess, I’ve been a bad, bad writer this last month. Skyrim came out and the gamer in me won. I played a lot – much more than I really needed to. And I convinced myself that as long as I was opening my document every other day, I was doing enough on my new draft of Ashfall.

Um, no.

I knew I was getting dangerously behind. I say dangerously in reference to my personal goals, as I’m not on a contract like a lot of writers out there. I still have the luxury to play games (excessively) when I should be writing, and hurt nothing but personal goals in the progress.

So I divided my current WIP count by the number of days I’d been working on it, which put me far below the hard numbers (word count per day) that I know I’m capable of outputting. Then I did the math to plot out when I would get done if I continued working at such a lame pace. Not good. Not even close to what it should be if I want to get this new manuscript to my agent in January.

I wasn’t even hitting the NaNoWriMo pace. We're talking under 500 words a day. I know that 500 words means different things to different people, but for me this is LAME. So then I plotted out where I would be if I used the 1666 words a day goal post, which I’ve done in the past and know I can easily met (since I won’t be playing hours of Skyrim anymore). That put me at the end of January – but that’s not good enough, because then I won’t have time to go over the draft for grammar and typos and shining before hitting send.

A friend recently pointed me to this post, which I think has a lot of truth to it, especially when it comes to documenting your time spent writing.

It’s very easy to kid yourself that you’re making progress (how ever you define it) every day just because you sit at the computer and stare at the doc for an hour.

But progress is different for everyone, and writing has a different priority level for everyone. So also see this.

I let writing slip down on my priority list this month, which for me, is not okay considering I want to make a career out of this. No one to answer to but myself, but there you have it.

Now, my goal is to 3500 words per day so I’m done by the end of December. Considering these two links and my past writing trends, it can be done. (By the way, this daily count includes scenes I revise and keep from the previous draft).

Yesterday I added 4416 words to my draft. All inspired by a little bit of math and some honesty with myself and how I’ve been using my free time.