Writing Accountability

Writing Accountability HeadIn January I wrote about a method I planned to try to increase my writing output. The basic idea (which comes from Jerry Seinfield) is to work every day on your writing. Every day you work, even a little, you put an X on a calender, until you have a chain of Xs. Here’s the link to my original post. –Link

I have since evolved the method for myself. I want to share that with you as well as my results.

First, I discovered I didn’t like Xs. They had too much of a negative connotation for me and didn’t give me that “I did it!” thrill I wanted. I changed to a star for a day I work on writing. If I miss a day, then I put an X. If I have to miss a day, for example, I’ve had some doctor’s appointments out of state, then I just put a scribble. Neither positive or negative.

Second, I decided after a month or so to write what I did that day. My calendar is small (I just bought a monthly calendar from the Dollar Store), so it’s often in shorthand. “Read thru JS,” or “plotting FT,” because all my stories have code names. I’m sure everyone does that–it saves time.

Third, by the time I got to March, I decided to schedule two critiques per week for my critique group and to plan on the calendar to write blog posts ahead of time. (It’s May 26 as I write this.)

This method has made me wildly, exponentially more productive than I have ever been as a writer.

I HATE breaking my chain. I hate seeing those Xs. I kind of even hate the squiggly–if I can squeeze in work those days, I do. I’m all about the stars, baby. If you want to see evidence, here’s a copy of April from my calendar.

I have three Xs. That’s 1/10 of the month. I had seven squiggly days (it was a busy month), but I still managed to write on two of those. That means, according to my calendar I wrote 23 days from a month in which I spent five days out of state.

I wrote a little more than 3/4ths of the time. In May, I missed three out of 31 days. I know some people, even on this blog, can say they do that well. I can promise you that before I started my calendar, I’d have been lucky to write more than half the time.

This year

I finished a 41k word novella and and rewrote a 95k word novel. I’ve completely plotted another novella. I have never accomplished so much in my writing career and never expected to. I just assumed I was slow. Turns out, I just wasn’t accountable.

What do you do to stay on track and be accountable for your writing?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Seinfield, Chains, & Writing

SeinfieldbgI’ve been trying a new technique to increase my writing output with quite a bit of success. Let me clarify, I measure success by working on writing in some way, every day. That’s been my goal. (I wrote last year about how important it was to set goals and then create a plan to achieve those goals, a road map of sorts.) I have finally found a very simple method that works for me.

I first heard about this technique on the website lifehacker.com. Basically, the site covers everything from how to put an altoid tin to use when you’re finished to how to land your dream job (in case you’re one of the five people who hasn’t heard of it). I’m an organization junkie and I’m in love with efficiency. I’m always searching for ways to accomplish more in more efficient ways.

This bit of advice hit my radar last year sometime.

[Seinfield] told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.

I noted it, did a little nod that it was likely good advice, and promptly filed it away. Fast forward a few months to me being utterly disgusted that I could not find a writing schedule that worked for me. I’d write for a day or two, slack off for a week, and start over.

I finally decided to buy a calendar and try this technique. I can tell you that making those chains is more addicting than candy crush. Or chocolate. Or Downton Abbey. Whatever you find irresistible, you will also find yourself compelled to add another link to your chain. There were those days, and we’ve all had them, that writing anything seemed so huge that the only reason I opened my laptop to do it was to create another link in my chain. And I got good, solid work done because of it. I started seeing real progress.

If you’re struggling, I suggest you give it a try. I also (again) recommend Jamie Raintree‘s writing progress spreadsheet to help you keep up with your work on various projects.

Do you have any other tips that might helps all of us get butt in chair?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

On Deadline

Julie Jarnagin

January 15 on my calendar has the word “Deadlines” written in big bold letters. Plural because I have two things due on this day–a novella and the content edits of my novel Kiss the Cowboy that releases in June. Deadlines are awesome because it means that the books are under contract! Having a deadline right after the holidays has proven to be a little challenging with busy schedules and a long to-do list.

But I’ve learned that a few strategies have been able to keep me on track to turn the manuscripts in on time.

1. Leaning on my husband for support – My husband is amazing. When I need him to pick up the slack by entertaining the kids or helping around the house more, he jumps right in. He doesn’t even complain when I don’t have time to go to the grocery store or he runs out of clean underwear. He just fills in everywhere I’m falling behind. I’m definitely blessed in the supportive spouse category.

2. Writing every day – For me it’s important to keep momentum going. I try to work on my writing every single day. I worked on my books on Christmas day after the kids went to bed. With a full-time job, a 10-month-old, and a six-year-old, I don’t have big chunks of time to get my writing done, so I have to make sure not to waste the time I have set aside, which is currently after my six-year-old goes to bed.

3. Taking baby steps – If I step back and think of everything I need to do before I turn the books in, I can get overwhelmed. I try to stay focus on one chapter, one scene, one line at a time. If I’m consistent and keep moving forward, I can get it all done.

4. Remembering why I write – Sometimes in the midst of an approaching deadline, I can forget why I do this in the first place. I have a passion for writing. I love giving readers an uplifting story about love and faith. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

How do you handle deadlines (writing or any kind of deadline in life)? Do you thrive on them or dislike the pressure?

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

I’m Late, I’m Late…for a Very Important Date

Clock-TracksOr maybe…I’m a day late and a dollar short?

Whatever the saying, I’m here, hanging my head in shame that I missed my scheduled post.

*smack*

Last week was Spring Break around my house, though sadly we didn’t go away. I still got up at the usual time, wrote new pages in the morning, then trudged off to the day job – while the kids stayed in bed and lounged around the house all week.

I remember being a teenager and looking forward to those lazy days of hanging around with my friends and having nothing to do, nowhere to go.

Lately it just seems there aren’t enough hours in the day to get my whole to-do list tackled, and man, am I ever stressed.

So, tell me…when Spring Break rolls around, do you de-stress with the kids or is it just another date on the calendar?

 

About Debora Dennis

A believer in second chances and that time should never be an obstacle to finding love, Debora writes time travels with modern snark and spice! When she's not writing, she's spending time with her family, reading, or trying to figure out a way to get chocolate into every dish she serves.

Summer Schedules

 

dreamstimefree_102201Summer is my favorite season, but as much as I love it, my writing does go down because I’m constantly running kids to the beach or camps or trying to adjust to NOT having a schedule.  But this summer I’m on a mission to finish my manuscript and have it subbed by the end of July (Or early August)

*cough cough*

Anyhew, this self-imposed deadline has forced me to do a few things differently in order to meet my goal.

Here’s what has helped me:

1) I get up earlier. Having a new puppy has certainly helped with that respect, but I found it’s a GREAT time to get some needed editing or writing done while the kiddo is sleeping in.

2) I exercise more. What? Yes, this actually has given me more energy and my mind seems to be in better focus in the early morning.

3) I cut my blogging schedule. As much as I enjoy reading and writing blogs, that is A LOT of time to use that I don’t have until the fall. And guess what? I still have my bloggy friends and my sales have not been affected.

4) I cut my Facebook time. Yes, I like Facebook and I like all my Facebook friends. But I check in ONCE a day for 5 minutes and then I’m out of there. And guess what? My FB friends still like me and my sales have not been affected.

5) When I have two or three hours of time to work on my writing—I ONLY work on my writing. Yes, I’m tempted to throw in a load of laundry or just quickly empty the dishwasher, but those little things add up to BIG time eaters. I do them AFTER I’ve worked on my writing.

6) I’m reading less. Is that a good thing? Well, for me, summer is usually my reading time, but since I’m writing, something has to be sacrificed. Not that I’m not reading at all, just not reading as much or as fast.

That’s my summer schedule and I’m sticking to it. So far, it’s been working out great. 🙂

 

How about you? Does you writing schedule change in the summer? How do you keep on track?

Don’t forget, every comment this month is entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card AND a FREE digital copy of Nina Croft‘s July release from Entangled, Losing Control.)

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her latest sweet romance: CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN

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