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One Week Down, A Lifetime to Go

So, a peak behind the curtain…

Last week I blogged that I’ve become more and more convinced that tracking and awareness are key components to the writing life, and I hinted that I’m building this conviction into a sort of philosophy of writing, which is helping me turn out #1 MORE, and #2 BETTER product.

Part of this development of philosophy (which is different from developing your actual method or process for writing) led me to informally keep track of my writing and literary-related activities. Basically, at the end of each week, I would think back over the things I did, didn’t do, should have done, etc. I was disappointed in my own efforts, and decided to push a little harder.

That worked. But to take it a step further, last week, on Monday night, I developed a tracking tool which allows me to track, daily, the time I’ve spent on various projects (writing, web-site building, business development, research, reading, etc) which I have identified as priorities. For example, I want to write fiction–actually be in the process of writing or editing my own work–at least 13 hours a week. I’m working on a non-fiction writing project, and ideally I would spend 8 hours every week on that project. I should be blogging 4 hours a week, spending 6 hours working on developing my writer’s web site for me, then hopefully for others, and eventually, working on design and development of my “top secret” project.

I laid out a schedule of “ideal” times to spend on the various activities, and then when I stuck to the schedule, I highlighted that schedule block. (There are some subtle ways to play this, which I’ll probably talk about later, but checking things off the schedule is the basic set-up.)

How did it go?

I thought it was great. From Tuesday to Sunday I had 41 hours of project-related activities scheduled. This is writing/literature-related items and my scheduled tutoring only…no household chores, no driving Cami to and from work, no going to the bank or post office…writing and teaching only. (There is a reason I’ve included the current tutoring, even though it isn’t strictly literature related: I WANT that teaching time to be teaching Fiction, some day, so I want it to count. You may also opt for Private Tutoring At Home).

I completed 30 of the 41 opportunities to work on my writing: 73%

Not stellar, but an improvement, nonetheless. If I were rating my happiness and productivity on a scale of 1 to 10, I would be a 9 for how happy I was with my writing for the week, and an 8 for productivity. Prior to last week, I had been hovering in the 4-6 range in both happiness and productivity.

Let me say, “happiness” here doesn’t mean the quality of the work is first-draft-perfect or anything…there’s still a lot of work to do. Happiness, instead, is a matter of personal, subjective peace with the amount of work accomplished and the level at which the talents and gifts I’ve been given were put into some sort of productive use.

More on scheduling and tracking to come…

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