Measuring progress: in word count, finished manuscripts and in happiness

IMG_2395With American Thanksgiving dinner already served and devoured, I suddenly realized that the year was coming to a close.  Many of you are looking at a tidy sum of words created by either doing  (National Novel Writers Month) or by reaching other goals.  How did you do it?

Springtime is for writers:   I have not kept track of my word count by month (but it is an intriguing idea for next year), but I am positive that I made my best gains in the spring this year.  I think this was because there were the least distractions in terms of holidays and other duties, and also because I was using “The 90-Day Novel” by Alan Watt to guide my writing.  As soon as school let out, my word production went down because I had less quiet time to write.

Why the second half of the year hasn’t provided me with the same benefits is confusing.  Perhaps recovering the house and routines after Summer takes a long time and then we enter birthday and holiday times.

IMG_1808Keeping the novel alive while away from the computer.   I went on vacation recently and I brought a little agenda with me from Chronicle books like this one but for 2013.  This thing came in a plastic sleeve with just enough room for a pen.  I wrote all over it, but there was a special area for notes.  Computers and cell-phones didn’t seem to agree with sunscreen and pool water, but this agenda in its sleeve was perfect.  While soaking in the sun, I wrote little bits about my novel and filled up many pages with notes to incorporate when back in the “writing” zone.   Over the year, having a notebook with me and reading inspiring books at night keep me on track with my goals when I am out of  “computer” range.

Time to write.  An idea I want to try is Waverly Fitzgerald’s writing “Rallies.” .  It’s not a conference or even a class.  It’s just several hours of uninterrupted time to write in a room with other people.  It is a way to set aside time outside of the house, and not a major committment.  You can read more about it here.

The Seattle 7 writers conference called Write Here, Right Now    also utilized the writing together concept and I totally enjoyed the experience, but Waverly’s will be even more focussed.  Perhaps that is the key for months of low-productivity.  Plan ahead and schedule in a day of writing.

IMG_2285 Be kind to myself:  I admit that when I realized the year was nearly at an end, I felt a sinking feeling.  I felt that I had not met my dreams of finishing my novel’s first draft, editing it and publishing it. Perhaps my goals were the problem.  Perhaps I wasn’t thinking enough about my writing “life.”  If my goal was, did I advance my novel and write consistently throughout the year?  The answer would be a resounding yes.  If it was, did I write my blog posts and work in pure enjoyment with my blog partner, another happy yes.  In fact, if I measure my novel productivity the way I measure my blog output, I would change my sinking feeling entirely.  If I worked solidly on my novel once every other week and then floated on my accomplishment until my next installment, I sure would be a lot kinder to myself.  Keeping goals has got to be easier when I honor my effort and joy as well as the “numbers.”

Here’s to floating happily aloft on all our writing accomplishments, as small or big as they may be.



About writeinseattle

Two Seattle writers examining the writer's life.
This entry was posted in Janis Wildy about writing, On Writing, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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