Earlier this month, I talked about an excellent workshop I attended that changed the way I thought about my writing habits. Today, I want to show you the result of that workshop.
Yes, I’m censoring some titles because I don’t want to spoil some publication and project surprises coming down the pike.
The above spreadsheet has increased my writing output and happiness and decreased my stress levels, and it’s so simple. Some of my deadlines are editor-, publisher-, or school-imposed (e.g. The Curiosity Killers is my thesis novel for my MFA program, and therefore it has set monthly deadlines), and some of them are self-imposed (e.g. The Wraithmaker and Late Bloomer are not currently under contract, but they’re first drafts of books that I want to get done by the end of 2014). But by putting in self-imposed deadlines, I also am doing a better job of prioritizing which items I need to work on a little bit more. The titles in green must be worked on every day for a shorter amount of time; the titles in yellow, orange, and red have deadlines coming up sooner; and the titles in grey are on the back burner until other items are done. I have goals for how many minutes per day I want to work on higher-priority titles, and sometimes I’m making it and sometimes I’m not. But the point is to work on the high-priority titles every day, even if it’s for 10, 20, or 30 minutes.
Am I perfect at it yet? No, clearly not, as evidenced by the fact that some of the projects’ last date worked on is last week despite their appearance in the “every day” sections. But because a lot of this is indeed self-imposed, it’s okay. At least I am making some headway, and at least I am thinking about (and usually doing) high-priority writing every single day.
It’s essentially the NaNoWriMo concept made a little more practical. The best way to keep discipline with writing? Write every day. Full stop. There’s no secret weapon, there’s no shortcut, it’s just sitting down and doing the work. By tracking it, I’ve now got clear evidence of how my discipline is going. Before, I was scattershot and simply tried to work a little on too many pieces all at once. Now I feel a lot more systematic in my approach.