Sunday, January 3, 2010

Keeping Track

As I was planning out my writing goals for this year, I looked through my process blog entries for last year to see what I’ve been doing and which goals I have and haven’t met. It really hit me how helpful it is to keep these kinds of records of what I’ve been working on. It’s helpful at the time, because just by the simple act of writing it down I’m holding myself accountable for what I do and do not get done, and keeping a record like this helps later on, too, so that I can have accurate documentation to review and analyze.

When I write my monthly posts for my process blog, I include not only whether or not I met my goals for that month, but also what the circumstances were that may have prevented me from meeting them. On the conscious level I’ve been including this information to explain what happened, you could say as an excuse, but looking at those explanations now, and likewise, looking at my entries for the times when I met or exceeded my goals, has helped me to evaluate myself as a writer. It’s helped me to understand how I work, what works for me and what doesn’t, what occurrences or situations in life seem to slow me down, and what settings seem to be ideal for my writing output.

It’s also been really useful for me to keep track of what projects I’ve been working on, as well as how much I got done and on which days. Sometimes I feel like I’ve done a lot more than I actually have, and sometimes I feel like I’ve done nothing when in fact I spent hours upon hours working on a close revision of one particular project. But being honest with myself, knowing on a conscious level what I have and have not been doing, is, for me, one of the best forms of motivation. Once I realize that I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like, I definitely push myself to work harder, and if I have been performing at the level I want myself to perform, I feel encouraged to keep the streak going.

I think it’s a good idea for writers to keep track of their work. It’s a given that you should log your submissions, but I believe that writers should also log what they’ve been working on. This may mean different things for different people. You may be the sort of writer who counts words, you may quantify your work in terms of time, or you may think about what you’ve been doing in terms of specific projects. It doesn’t matter. Whatever works. I think it’s well worth the time it takes to do it, and you’ll probably find that you start pushing yourself just that much harder just by knowing that you’re going to write these things down and look back on them later.


Justus said...

Do you ever think it would be kind of neat to have a punch clock like a factory worker so you could punch in and out every time you write?

Ashley Cowger said...

I don't know if you're joking, but I actually do think that would be cool :) Partly just because I always wanted to use one of those.

Justus said...

No, I'm serious. I've totally thought about getting one before. I think I might have actually priced one once.