In my first post of the new year, I wrote about how I wanted to try to write just a little bit—100 words—each day for 2015. I’d had a really heavy few weeks (death sucks, ya’ll) and decided that in 2015, I’d try to do something that makes me happy every day, i.e. writing.
The key word there is “happy.”
In the original post, I talked about wanting to keep things fun, which is why I made my daily target amount so small. It’s modeled after the “run streak” phenomena, which is basically where a runner tries to run at least a mile every day for a set period of time. I’m big into running and I’ve known several people who have done this for a month, a year, etc.
So, there’s the background. Time for a progress report!
As you may have guessed from my theme of happiness and fun, I do not have a perfect streak of writing every day. Because, honestly, life happens.
See that March calendar up there? The red stars are for 100 words, the gold stars are for 1,000 words, silver is for revision and purple is for client copy editing (because that takes up writing time).
As you can see, there were three days I didn’t even manage 100 words. Why? Because my baby got the Norovirus (24 hours of puking) and then gave it to me.
Yeah, so no writing those days. And forcing myself to do it would have gone against the “fun” principle aka “the whole point.”
So, I’m not perfect. But I am having fun. It’s nice to see actual visual progress of my writing (more than just a climbing word count) and it’s also nice to see what I’ve been doing career-wise over a period of time.
If you’re going to try out the calendar and sticker method, here are a few things I’ve learned:
1. Give credit where it’s due: I didn’t add my copy editing to the calendar until March. I did so because I had a lot of editing to do in January and February and it was taking the place of a lot of my writing and revision time. Basically, I wanted to give myself credit for working my butt off on writing-related things.
2. Adjust your progress reports: So, as you can see, I had very few 1,000-word days in March. I prefer to write 1,000 words per day when I’m writing a first draft, but, honestly, with the baby and life, that’s just not happening this time around. That said, I have had many, many days where I’ve written 500 to 700 words, yet all you’ll see on those days is one lousy red star. Thus, I think I might start giving myself gold stars for 500-word days in May.
3. Buy lots of stickers: I’m already out of the red ones. Huzzah!
How’s your work-in-progress treating you?
I have two WIPs at the moment and I am waiting for responses from others for both of them as part of preparing for submissions. So I am writing other things while I wait. Waiting is not one of my favorite things.
I don't have a job or children competing for my time, like you Sarah. I need no system or reward for balance. My writing goal is to finish my revision soon and get on with querying. In all things, I seem to be cyclical, so I don't worry much about whether or not I'm writing everyday. When I do write, I do so intensely, often for a month or more, then I take a break and go at it again. Sometime I frustrate myself wishing I were more regular. But at some point, everyone must make peace with themselves. Who we are and how we accomplish our goals are uniquely our own. It gets done one way or another.
I’ve set my 2015 goal based on an average minimum number of hours per week. At the end of March I was 7.5 weeks ahead of schedule. Which isn’t bad, because I am on vacation now and I have a month long trip planned for the summer with one of the grandkids.
Besides, it's a minimum, not maximum, and I like being ahead.
One thing I have learned is that if I break a large task into small bites, it seems more doable and so have an easier time getting it done.
I have a project out on query (the waiting game - ugh!) So now I have a couple of projects going - a short story, a children's mystery, and a revision. Yes, I am a bit ADD. It works fairly well since I squeeze these projects into the available time in my work schedule. Looking forward to retirement….
Sarah, I keep a daily journal, but in January, when Hank Phillippi Ryan posted on the Guppy list serve that she keeps a writing journal, I decided to keep one, too. It's a small notebook, but just for what writing I did that day, whether it's working on my current book in process, a short story, a blog, a poem, or editing some work, I write it down. Maybe it was only the horrible weather that kept me housebound, but even now that spring is actually here, I find myself writing more and more so maybe the journal had something to do with it just like your chart with stars.
Whatever works! Different people will respond to different things, and if it helps you reach your goal, it's the right thing for you.
I recently took a break from my main WIP when I had to deal with my publisher going out of business and working with a new one. To my dismay, when I returned to what I thought was a fairly complete rough draft, it didn't seem to work at all. So I pretty much started over.
But as long as I enjoy what I'm doing, I'll keep at it.
I'm finishing a short story and working on a screenplay. A lot of my time has been spent researching and planning the screenplay plus analyzing scripts. Honestly, it's a more complicated project than I'm ready for...but I enjoy a challenge. And it's so much fun!
Sarah, thanks so much for sharing your chart. I am so impressed with it and all the projects and plans everyone has.you are all truly inspiring. As for me, I'm working on a novel and two shorts very sporadically. Thanks for the excellent tips on balance.
Everyone is definitely balancing a lot! Including waiting (boooo!). Glad you all enjoyed my update!
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