It's time for this week's update!
Come along as I describe a Sunday morning coffee date...with myself.
Watch the embedded video below, or you can use this link to slide over to YouTube: https://youtu.be/h7vHUBIfJ5w
If you'd rather read the transcript instead, you'll find it after the video below.
Thanks for watching!
Setting Myself Up (This is Not a Dating Video): Million Words Week 15
Ok, so, it's Sunday Morning. And I'm a little nervous.
I've arranged a meeting over coffee, a coffee date, I guess. Nothing too extravagant, but I'm really curious to see how things go, you know. See if there's a spark. Maybe a solid vibe.
Maybe even something I could see progressing, and taking off.
These first meetings, or, first impressions, can be really important, so I've kind of prepared. Gone over some scenarios in my head. Kind of role-played the possible interactions.
I think I've prepared myself enough, and I'm ready to meet...
...my new week.
Assess last week's progress, review what my goals are, and plan out a strategy for moving forward.
It's my Sunday Morning date, with myself, to set myself up for the next week.
I'll talk a little bit about that, and give you an update on my quest to write one million words.
Let's get started.
Welcome to Week Fifteen of the Million Words Project. I'm Eric Sheridan Wyatt, a Northern Kentucky-based author, writing instructor, and creativity coach.
Fifteen weeks ago, I challenged myself to write one million words in twelve months, and I started this video series to document my progress.
Each week, I give an update on the million word challenge, and I talk a little bit about the ups and downs of my writing and creative life.
I hope that someone out there will find these videos to be helpful as I encourage you to tackle that BIG THING challenge you've always dreamed of, but never quite got around to. And, if you are already cruising along toward your creative, personal, or business goals, maybe you'll find something here to inspire you to keep going, or even reach a higher level.
The sub-title motto of The Million Words Project is, "Small steps lead to big results."
Let's check out last week's small steps along the path to a million words.
Week fifteen was another solid effort.
My weekly baseline target for reaching one million words in twelve months is 20,000 words per week. This week came in at a little over three thousand words above that baseline target.
In fact, I am almost twenty-four thousand words above the pace, right now. I've been banking some extra words here and there, and that may come in handy in a couple weeks, when I have some scheduling conflicts and personal commitments that will likely limit my writing time.
When I assess the distribution of the total words across the five categories I monitor for the challenge, I see some interesting data. Moving left to right, the first number jumps out at me. Almost eight thousand words in journaling this week, is a really big number.
If you watched the last few weeks, you'll know that I was struggling with several internal crisis-points, and this week's journal was a place where I worked out some more of those thoughts, and how to apply the solutions to my life in a way to lessen those fears and concerns.
The next column, the non-fiction category, I was busy racking up some progress in a couple of business-related areas, including a new non-fiction series of books I am planning, and doing some brand and website work for my ghostwriting, creativity coaching, and writing instruction business.
Sadly, the client total was back to zero, after finishing the ghost-writing project I'd been working on the last couple of weeks. And the fiction total was a little bit low, as I was spinning my wheels a bit, trying to gain traction in the next short story I'm writing.
Finally, I'm keeping to my self-imposed limit to keep the Life Document below seven thousand words each week, in order to rebalance my overall writing life.
And, if we look at the charts and graphs, we'll see that balance is slowly being restored to the pie chart. That big red section is gradually shrinking as a percentage of the whole. Which is what I'm shooting for.
I already mentioned earlier that I'm about 24,000 over the pace, and you can see the rolling ten week performance versus pace graph at the bottom.
As I said a minute ago, the large word count in the journaling category this week was tied, in part, to the topics of the last couple of episodes. So let me explain that a little more in this week's topic.
Two weeks ago I told you a little about the existential crisis I was having about having too many ideas and projects, and too little time to do them all. That left me feeling like nothing really mattered, and I was tempted to give in to laziness and resistance.
Last week, I described how part of talking myself down from the ledge of my creative crisis of faith was realizing I needed to make some big changes in order to progress beyond the limited success I've been having in reaching toward my million words challenge target.
This week, I began settling in to both my newly reformatted and reconsidered work space, AND I began to implement some additional methods of providing myself structure and support, so that I can continue to move forward.
I'm already feeling a surge in enthusiasm and energy, with the upgraded work flow and self-management system. I'm still working out the kinks, and will continue to adjust and modify things as I move forward, but the improvement is already being realized.
Rather than being hyper-specific about what I do or don't do, I'm going to give you some baseline concepts and considerations. I don't think that my current method is some magic wand. In fact, what I am constantly doing is evolving my work patterns into something new. As I make changes, I'm continually refining and adjusting.
Balance is a verb, not a noun, and I am engaged in a perpetual cycle of rebalancing.
While the specifics of my methods may not apply to anyone else, the general concepts do.
Because of personal and household circumstances, my week starts on Sunday. Sunday through Thursday are my heavy-lift days. Those are the days I typically apply myself to my creative work, chores, errands, and various other projects. Friday is a mixed-bag day. Some weeks it is another work day, other weeks it is not. Saturdays, I try to keep free for rest, relaxation, and recreation.
As with most people, there are times when this "typical" schedule is adhered to, and other weeks when my week is a jumbled mess, whether because of unexpected complications, or because I've chosen to rearrange the week.
In all of this though, there is an underlying methodology. Review. Assess. Plan. And Execute.
I try to start each week by keeping a date with myself to review the prior week, assess what went well and where I was lacking, make a plan to tackle the obligations and interests of the new week, and then execute that plan.
The next week, I do the process over again, adjust to what happened in the past and envision what I want to happen going forward.
Setting the foundation for the week gives me guidelines and boundaries. It identifies what is important and what, therefore, I need to pay attention to.
I have a limited resource of time, energy, motivation, and attention. Planning and structure reduces the mental load. Taking an hour at the start of the week to set myself up for success is an investment into ongoing gains.
Over the last two weeks, I've made some major adjustments to how I administer this REVIEW, ASSESS, PLAN, and EXECUTE paradigm. I've spent hours refining my process, and I am adopting these new procedures knowing full well that additional refinement will be necessary.
So, I start off my Sunday by assessing the prior week, reorienting myself toward my overarching goals, and then introducing myself to a proposed weekly schedule to address the to-dos, the goals, and the ongoing open-loop projects I have in front of me.
It takes some time, and some thought, but once I've accomplished this, I have a game plan. I have a clear path. If I follow the path, I will finish the week having made significant progress.
Real talk, though? It almost NEVER works out exactly as I've planned it.
And, that's okay.
The real world almost never mirrors the ideal scenario. Sometimes, that's because things out of my control encroach on the ideal. Other times, it is my own fault that the week doesn't progress as planned.
I'm not a slave to the proposed schedule. I'd likely get a lot more accomplished if I were, but life isn't ONLY about checking off boxes and crossing out items I've completed.
However, as I mentioned when I told you about my creative crisis of faith, I know that for me, having steady progress toward my long-term goals and the mountain of books I want to write is where I find meaning, purpose, and a zest for life.
Even on the weeks when the ideal schedule can't be achieved, by having a well-developed plan, I can still accomplish some of the things on my lists. And even slow progress is progress.
I often get pushback from writers and other creatives when I talk so much about schedules and goals and finding ways to structure your life to maximize your creative time.
But I believe it is a necessary consideration for any creative, whether you have a "normal" job and busy life and are trying to carve out some time for more creative pursuits, or if you have all the time in the world for your creative ideas.
In fact, I would argue that if you fall into the "all the time in the world" category, you probably need a more formal structure even more than the person whose "real life" is already limiting and providing them with a de facto schedule to follow.
So for inspiration, this week, I'm going to share a quote from author and speaker, Greg Reid, who says: "A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true."
The point of the Million Words Project, for me, is to reignite my writing life and reenergize the creative impulse that had gone dormant.
It wasn't that I wasn't writing. It wasn't that I didn't have a creative impulse.
But my creative life had dwindled, almost to the point of hibernation.
The first dozen weeks were a time of building those writing muscles and reestablishing a habit of sitting down with pen and paper, or at the keyboard, over and over and over again.
The last couple of weeks have been a time to assess the progress so far, refine the plan, and move forward.
This isn't some radical new methodology. It's a simple process. You probably already do it, though maybe subconsciously.
My take away for you this week is this: Being more intentional and specific with your creative life is not antithetical to having a creative life.
It is, in fact, a key component to accelerating your work.
Points to Ponder
This week I want to challenge you to write down the four elements of ongoing self-evaluation and planning, and write about how they impact your own life. Perhaps you will see these four elements (Review. Assess. Plan. Execute) already at work in how you structure your creative work. Maybe you call them by different names. Or maybe you've never thought about the method you utilize with any specific structure, but you recognize the concepts.
Perhaps, like many of us, you've applied these ideas to BIG PICTURE planning, but not on a more granular, weekly or daily level. Perhaps, though, you could.
How do you apply these things to your work now, and how might you evolve, deepen, or otherwise improve how you utilize them moving forward?
Are you mindful of how you've performed in the past? (Review)
Do you make note of what works for you and what doesn't work as well, or not at all? (Assess)
Do you adapt and adjust the way you will work toward your projects and goals based on that assessment? Do you set yourself up for more of the things that work well, and find ways to minimize or replace the things that are failing you? (Plan)
And do you follow through with the plan? Do you do more of what works and less of what doesn't? Do you make actual changes toward the idealized schedule, even if you never quite realize an idealized life? (Execute)
If you take some time to really write through these ideas and questions, I'd love to hear some feedback from you. As always, comments are a great way to get my attention, and they might just help someone else who is struggling with their creative output.
And, there are links to other ways to connect with me in the show notes. I'd love to hear from you.
That wraps up week fifteen of the Million Words Project.
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