There are many days—too many to count, really—where productivity is extremely difficult to come by. Often times lollygagging on the internet is more interesting than slogging through yet another revision, or that twitter update feels so much easier to write than the next chapter. Other times, my mind is just not there, be it from work, school, or a lack of caffeine.
I have always loved writing, but in all honesty, writing is not always easy.
For those of you who have participated in National Novel Writing Month, or have at least heard of it, you know that it brings a certain amount of accountability to the board. There are hundreds—even thousands—of other writers in the world racing to the 50,000 word finish line right beside you, as well as friends and family cheering you on (or criticizing you for undertaking such an insane goal). What would they think if you did not manage to do the 50k words in those fleeting 30 days?
Thousands of people do it every year, for the official NaNoWriMo event in November, and the various unauthorized spin-offs which happen during other months. Either way, it helps having a physical wordcount goal to keep up with every day, and it helps having other writers struggling alongside you, checking in on you, and sometimes leaving you in literary dust.
With my own writing slowing down, I decided that I needed some form of solid accountability, some way to show myself exactly how much I was writing in a week, and some way to see if it would be possible to meet my self-set deadline of early August for Mikara Falling.
Just a few days ago, I went and bought a notebook. It is not for ideas, brainstorming, doodling, or prose, but for keeping track of how much I write per day, when I write it, and where I write it.
This way, I can know for sure whether or not I can call myself a “full time writer” while being entirely honest.
So far, it has made me more conscious of the times when I should be writing my book, and I’m playing on the internet instead, or phoning a friend, or writing for this blog. It has also made me conscious of the fact that with my current work schedule (two jobs and classes at the local university), I really need to plan out when I am going to sit down to write, and more importantly, actually use that time for writing.
I’ve yet to log an entire week, but my way of thinking about the day’s structure, and my own (lack of) productivity has completely changed. My drive to complete this is not accompanied by time to actually do it, if I portion it out right.
Give it a try. You don’t have to buy a notebook, any old piece of paper or sticky note will do, just put it at your desk, or take it with you if you write outside the house, and really keep track of when you are writing. If you stop writing for any period more than five minutes (for a bathroom break, or to get a beverage, etc), clock yourself out until you start working again. It’s as simple as that.
You might be surprised by how much—or how little—you actually write in the day.