Tracking My Writing: Week Three

So in a previous post I mentioned that I was starting a tracking experiment, where I’m setting an “ideal writing/work week” goal, and then comparing that goal to actual writing/work activities I’ve done throughout the week.

Basically, the system is working like this: I’ve come up with a “perfect week” schedule that encompasses four areas of my literary pursuits. The four areas are, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Website & New Business Development, and Reading and Research. For me, in my chronically under-employed state, there are 51 units (hour blocks) each week where I have said I want to be focused on one of those four areas. (It is actually a little more complicated than that, but for the purposes of this blog, that’s a good, short description.)

At the end of the week, I ask myself how subjectively happy I am with the work I’ve accomplished in the previous week, how productive the week FELT, and I jot down a brief couple lines about the good and the bad of the week.

For example, last week I rated my Happiness with my work (on a scale of 1 to 10) at about a 6, and I rated my productivity at about a 6 as well. I wrote the following brief note: “Some good work on the non-fiction side this week. Making real progress. My Fiction muse went missing. Photos posted at the post office and on milk cartons. Call if you see her.”

Now, when I go back and look at the hourly progress chart, I see it reflects the sentiments I expressed above. Very little time spent on writing or editing Fiction, but a lot spent on non-fiction. I marked off 65% of the available time slots, which is reflected in my “6” happiness and productivity rating.

That’s all well and good, you might be saying….but what does it really MEAN?

Good question.

Here’s how I’m looking at this: The data I’m collecting is meant to help me better understand my own writing and working habits, and encourage me toward refining them. So, here’s what I’ve learned about ME so far.

1) My instincts are actually pretty good, when it comes to gauging my writing and productivity. Weeks when I “feel better” about what I’ve accomplished have been weeks when I’ve been more actively and consistently engaged in the writing. Period. (Again, Happiness in this sense is not about how “good” the work was and it certainly is not about whether or not the dog peed on your manuscript, you wife was mad because you forgot to pick her up, or whether or not you missed that perfect sunset at the beach because you were too lazy to put your shoes on. Happiness in THIS CASE is all about your personal perception of how much time you were able to devote to writing and writing-related tasks throughout the week.)

2) There are times when the “muse” isn’t present, so it is important for me to have other things to work on. But–and this is a key to the end-of-week assessment process–as I get into the new week, after a week where the fiction wasn’t flowing, I’m also determined to do some things to get my mojo back. As I start this new week, I’m going to do some exercises and utilize some of the techniques that often help me get back into a fiction groove.

3) My “ideal week” would probably put me in my grave. Or, at least, it would leave the dishes undone, the dog’s unfed, the wife quite unhappy. Man. I can’t wait for a week like that. 🙂

Three weeks in, and I find that I’m learning quite a bit about me, and about my process, and, I’m able to realign my efforts to make better use of my time and talent. In the end, that’s what this whole little experiment is about.

More on tracking and my rigid new work life (ha!!) to come.

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7 thoughts on “Tracking My Writing: Week Three

  1. I can, as a very new writer / blogger, empathise with your dilemma. I too try to set goals for each week and will, from time to time, perhaps not weekly though, reflect on my progress. What it has taught me already, howvere, is that this is what I both want and need to do.

    • Confirmation of a “calling” (or, insert whatever similar “bigger than me” concept that suits you) is a wonderful side effect of charting and goal setting. Often, because we are engaged in something seen as equal parts mystery and artistic, writers are reluctant to put tools like tracking and goal setting and accountability to work in their writing process. It is easy enough to see the application of such things in the business world, but on the artistic side, there is a sense that we are handcuffing the muse or beating down the beauty of the creative spirit. It is fun to explore how that isn’t (or at least, doesn’t have to be) the case.
      Thanks for stopping by, Tony!

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