Tag Archive for: productivity

I made a difficult decision this month to break the chain. After struggling to find the time and energy to work on my novel in any kind of meaningful way, I took a hard look at my writing life. I assessed what my days were like, what my stress levels were like, and why I kept putting off writing. I looked at my motivations and distractions and my goals. My precious, precious goals.

I’ve been writing at least 250 words every day, and after five years I decided it was time to break the chain.

Evolution of a Goal

When I first set the goal of writing 250 words every day, it was a path to a specific end goal. I wanted to move from being a daily writer to someone who writes 1,000 words every day.

I got it in my head from reading the habits of prolific and successful authors that the only way to “Make It” was to write 1K–2K every day. Which I was not doing. (Which I currently have no hope of growing into either, but we’ll get to that.)

My first steps on this path had gone well. I transformed myself first into someone who wrote daily, and then into someone who wrote at least 100 words a day, and then into someone who wrote at least 250 words a day. And most days I wrote more than that!

The original plan was to continue to up that goal every year—or whenever the minimum word count seemed “too easy”—but then I had a reality check.

Reality Check: Getting Intentional

So, like, writing a minimum of 250 words every day is fine. I was able to write 250 words when I was distracted by DragonCon, sick with covid, depressed, throwing up from a food allergy, and in many other really sucky situations.

But many of those times when I was writing those 250 words under less-than-ideal circumstances, I was also not writing intentionally.

I had fallen into the trap of writing literally anything to not break the chain—and then amassing starts of projects I was never planning to continue (mostly because they were babbling for the sake of word count).

I made the decision to write from a project list or with a specific project series in mind (like Writer Resources posts). And things got better. For a year or two. But I still had a problem.

Break the Chain (When It Binds You)

Whenever time was short, my stress was high, my mental health was low, my exhaustion had a vice grip on my brain—I wanted to write the easy words and keep putting links in the chain of 250 words a day.

“Easy” writing for me often equates to nonfiction posts or presentations about writing. In the last year, while I’ve been suffering another round of severe depression and heightened anxiety, I have written way, way more blog posts than fiction.

I have a specific end goal in mind again—a different goal than trying to write 1,000 words a day (which I have also given up as crazy-pants-thinking I don’t need in my life)—that goal is to write a draft of a novel. While writing 250 words a day would help that goal, it’s too much pressure right now.

At the start of a project, while I’m hemming and hawing, questioning my decisions and direction, and just figuring it all out, I don’t need the added pressure of making sure I’m hitting a daily word count. And trying to hit that daily word count was preventing me from putting time into my novel because I knew those weren’t easy words, I wouldn’t hit my 250 goal, and stress! Not writing! Ahhh!

And that, my friends, is why it’s time to break the chain. I have moved away from the original goal, the revised goal is no longer serving me, and it’s time to find some new habits to help support the writer I am today.

(But, uh, still a daily writer… FOR NOW.)

 

 

For full access to The Write Life and more about what I’ve done to assist with my creative life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.

The end of the year is a time for reflection. For writers, that reflection often includes taking assessment of how many things we published or finished, or maybe how much progress we made in a novel—or if you’re an industrious little tracker (like someone around here), how many words, hours, or pages you wrote over the year. Inevitably that reflection turns to the future and to setting writing goals.

Writing goals for the new year should be set on your previous goals, the progress you made, and what your priorities are now. Frequently I’ll look back on goals I made and realize I didn’t even remember setting those goals, which means I did nothing about them over the year. (And ultimately means they weren’t actually that important to me and I probably should have set different goals.)

Let’s talk about how to set better writing goals that support our long-term writing hopes and short-term realities.

Setting Realistic Writing Goals

Define Your Priorities & Reality

Before you start dreaming up writing goals, you need to decide what’s important to you. While that should include what’s important to you about your writing life, it should also consider everything else about your life.

If spending more time with your kids or learning how to knit has become an important part of your life, you need make time for it. Balance your writing goals against your other goals and priorities so everything fits together.

Your writing goals don’t always have to be about doing more. Sometimes making a writing goal to write for only 1 hour per week, or to write 100,000 words fewer than last year, or to write 1 novel instead of 3 is the right call. You’ll feel more successful when your goals match your reality, and you can check them off instead of continuing to shuffle them to next year.

Limit Your Goal List

One of the mistakes I’ve made in the past is trying to tackle too much at once. A list of writing goals that is ten items long has at least six things that will be forgotten or ignored. It’s too hard to focus when there are too many goals, and it’s too easy to forget what you’re not actively working on.

Three or four focused goals that meet your priorities and reality are more powerful than ten goals you wish you could achieve in a perfect world.

Subjective & Objective

Many writing goals are objective:

  • Did you finish your novel?
  • Did you write 200,000 words?
  • Did you write every day?

Those goals all have an easy yes or no answer, and you can check your progress throughout the year and have a good idea if you’ll achieve your goal. (For example, if you need to write 100,000 words in October to meet your word count, you can probably assume you’re not going to make it.)

While it’s good to have a goal you can measure, in a creative life it can be demoralizing if you realize you won’t reach your goals. When you know your goals are out of reach, it can be harder to make any progress toward them, which defeats the whole purpose of writing goals!

Instead of basing all your goals around objective metrics, include some goals with a subjective component. These goals might include something about craft development, your mindset toward writing, or how you feel about your work in progress. What’s something you want to change about your writing life or process? What’s a goal you can set to put you on the path to the change?

Writing Goals

Taking this advice, here are my four writing goals for 2024.

  1. Write 200,000 words.
    It’s me, you knew there would be a wholly objective word count goal.
  2. Complete a novel draft.
    The planning is complete, and the draft has started! If you want to follow this journey in detail, check out the Behind the Novel tier on Patreon. I’ll be talking all about my novel writing process (successes, frustrations, and failures) over the course of the year.
  3. Clear more mental space for writing.
    I’ve been working on getting my physical space more organized in an effort to declutter my mental space. I want a physical space that lets me drop my baggage and focus entirely on my work. While there are some objective elements to this goal, how much mental space is cleared is definitely a subjective assessment.
  4. FOCUS.
    If I do nothing else, I want to focus on what’s in front of me and not let other projects or ideas distract me—even if they’re really cool! (I do have some leniency for other projects that have been sitting on the burners, but the most time and focus over the year needs to be on the novel until it’s got a full draft!)

So, that’s what I’m working on next year. What are your writing goals for 2024?

 

 

For full access to The Write Life and more about what I’ve done to assist with my creative life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.

Saying you’re going to write a book is easy. So is deciding to write 250,000 words this year. It’s also easy to say you’re going to write 1,000 words every day or get a story published. Writers have no trouble setting goals—the difficult thing is taking actions that will actively support your writing goals.

I’m great at making goals and getting distracted. It’s not that I forget the goal I made—I’m just really good at finding other interesting projects that demanded my attention, time, and energy. In some ways it’s a form of procrastination. There could also be a little self-doubt or imposter syndrome worming their way in there if the goal I set feels bigger than what I think I can accomplish. Whatever the underlying cause of the distraction, I wind up working on things other than my intended goal.

So how do you support your writing goals instead of getting distracted?

Support Your Writing Goals

Keep Your Goal Centered

A sculpture of a hand supporting a tree that is growing lopsided, much in the way that you need to support your writing goals using whatever props you can.

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

The first thing is to keep your goal centered within your writing practice. If you’re planning to write a book, set daily, weekly, or monthly targets to help you achieve that goal. Those targets can be the number of hours you work on the book, the number of words you write, or some other measurement of progress.

Give the book pride of place in your writing schedule. Devote the most time and energy to that book. If you have other writing obligations (most of us do), try to either work on your book first or devote more quality time to your book on another day.

Ignore Distracting Opportunities

Don’t take on other time- and energy-consuming projects that are unrelated to your goal. If your goal is to get a short story traditionally published in a magazine, don’t work on a novel. Devote your time and energy to reading and understanding and writing short fiction.

Becoming a slush reader for a magazine can help you with your research in that regard—it can give you an insight into what publishers are looking for in a short story within your genre. But agreeing to review novels won’t support your short story publishing goal. (And at some point, you might want to give up that slush reader job to focus on your own writing.)

Goals Take Time

Goals take time to achieve. Remember, it’s easy to list your goals, but it’s much harder to achieve them. Even the fastest novel drafters don’t show up to the page with an empty mind. They’ve spent time thinking about the story, if not writing down their planning.

Give yourself space to focus on your goal and work toward it a little at a time. If you have a deadline, set landmarks to help you get to your goal. If you don’t have a deadline, find other landmarks or ways to ensure you’re working toward your goal and making progress.

And progress does not mean 1,000 words a day, even if that’s your goal. Progress can mean writing 250 words per day for three months, and then upping that daily word count. Give yourself time to get there!

Adjust Your Behaviors or Responsibilities

If you’re able to, adjust your behaviors and responsibilities to align with your goal and focusing your time and energy on that goal. Instead of reading only fiction in your downtime, read books on novel writing or publishing. Instead of blogging those novel reviews, blog about short story reviews.

Or if you have a Patreon and are shifting your goal to writing a novel, maybe change one of your reward tiers to talk about the novel writing process. (Which is what I’ve just done—details at this link!)

If you have other writing responsibilities you normally perform, consider how they can work to support your writing goal, and then shift them so your goal is centered in your writing life.

 

Achieving your writing goals is possible, but first you have to support your writing goals! Look at the other things you do and ask, “how is this going to help me meet my goals?” Make sure you give yourself time and energy to devote to projects and tasks that will help you make progress. And while you’re doing all that—give yourself the grace to make a misstep and course correct. Adjusting your schedule, expectations, and focus is all part of the writing process!

 

 

For full access to The Write Life and more about what I’ve done to assist with my creative life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.

If you’ve been following along for the past year, you already know I’ve been taking a long break from novel writing to take care of my parents. With the major illnesses under control, and adjustments and new routines established, I can finally inch back into novel writing. This means refamiliarizing myself with plans, getting back into the characters’ voices, and figuring out what’s been percolating in my head while I’ve been away. In short, it’s a novel writing return!

I know I’m not the only one who’s been in this situation—coming back to a novel after a long (sometimes years long) break—so I wanted to share what I did this month to reconnect with my novel.

Take Stock Before Writing

The first step is all about taking stock and figuring out where you left off. For this novel, it included reading over the outline and making notes where the plot seemed a little draggy. (Turns out in the two years away, the outline did not magically fix itself.)

I have many different parts of this story drafted, but since I’m working from a new outline, I decided to not bother rereading any drafts. I will be incorporating things from previous drafts, but I think I’d prefer to revisit those as I get to each scene since my outline is so detailed.

I also discovered I created a writing schedule, which will help with the next step….

Update the Novel Plan

Updating the novel plan starts with updating the outline. I only had a few notes to address in the opening chapters, but they required shifting scenes and chapter breaks, which also created a need to update the story map. (The story map is a document that tells me who is in each scene, where it takes place, and which plot threads it involves.)

The novel plan also includes plans for how to write the novel, specifically what my writing schedule will be. The schedule I previously devised had me writing 3–4 scenes per week, and while I aspire to that level of productivity, it’s just not realistic with my other obligations.

Instead, I looked at the estimated word count of each scene and then doubled that number (because I know the chaotic, word-heavy way I draft). Keeping a realistic goal in mind, I decided I am unlikely to write more than 4,000 words per week, so that base schedule has me writing 1–2 scenes per week.

Renewing Voice

Reconnecting to a novel includes reconnecting to the characters. Because it’s been a hot minute since I wrote anything substantial for these characters, I wanted to reacclimate myself to their voices. I picked a few moments and various character combinations to write about and went at it!

Making my novel writing return by starting with some odd moments let me approach the writing at a slower pace while I was still finishing plan adaptations. It also meant I could test some of my plans to see how much I can actually write on a busy day with my new routines and schedules.

Novel Writing Return!

The hardest part of the return is to stop dawdling and get writing. That means officially writing a scene that will—gulp—go into the novel.

So that’s for next month! 😅

(Seriously, updating the outline and story map took longer than I originally thought it would—but no regrets about that time spent! For me, the planning stage is important to keeping my brain on track and untangled as I draft. Other writers struggle with the planning and revision; my writing struggle is drafting.)

I am coincidentally starting my draft in November, though not doing NaNoWriMo. Anyone else setting ambitious writing goals outside of a challenge structure?

 

 

For full access to The Write Life and more about what I’ve done to assist with my creative life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.

This month has been A. LOT. There’s no other way to describe it, honestly. When life becomes a lot, there’s often nothing you can do about it except hold on, ride through, and hope you can figure out how to get some writing done while everything else is happening.

Many other writers would (and should) take a break from writing when faced with all the chaos and uncertainty I dealt with this past month. I find solace in maintaining my writing streak and keeping one element of my life somewhat steady, so I continued using daily prompts as a low stress way to take a break from writing while continuing to write regularly.

I also made progress drafting a new writing workshop about how to evaluate writing advice and decide what fits your life and what can be discarded. (Look for that in 2024.)

And I spent my time not stressing about life to stress about getting ready for DragonCon—which is happening right now!

If you’re hanging out around Atlanta, you’ll be able to find me at these fine panels over the weekend (schedule subject to change, as is the will of DragonCon):

FRIDAY

    • 11:30AM Stargate: The TV Movies and Beyond
    • 2:30PM Coping Strategies in Military Sci-Fi Media
    • 7:00PM It Was Kang All Along

SATURDAY

    • 11:30AM Mythology and Religion in the Worlds of Stargate
    • 7:00PM BFFs in the MCU

SUNDAY

    • 8:30PM Firefly: It All Comes Out in the Wash

MONDAY

    • 11:30AM Titans: Brother Blood
    • 2:30PM Guardians: Rocket’s Story

I’m on exclusively fan-focused panels this year, though I’m sure I’ll discuss some writerly worldbuilding during the mythology and religion panel, and I’ll be talking about the importance of relationships in action stories while discussing Marvel friendships, and I’m already planning a little English 101 exploration of protagonists to lead off the panel on Rocket Raccoon. (They may be fan panels, but I always bring my writing game.)

If you are someone who follows me on the internet and are able to find me at DragonCon, don’t be shy about saying hello. I’m always happy to chat with fellow writers and nerds.

 

 

For full access to The Write Life and more about what I’ve done to assist with my creative life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.

No daily writer even wants to think the word “burnout.” But at the end of June someone directed that word at me, and I had to accept that part of my recent problem is related to burnout.

It was pointed out that the last year has been, um, stressful. Putting my career on hold to take care of my family was one kind of stress, but then coming back to my job with my hair on fire, desperate to jump in and make things work better was another kind of stress on top of that. Add to that daily struggles, my own chronic illnesses, isolation and loneliness, and the state of the world—it’s been a lot. So, yes, I am burned out, even if it’s not the creative burnout I fear. (And that’s not to say that all the other burnout isn’t sapping my creative energies.)

I decided to take the end of June to clear my plate, so I could spend as much of July as possible relaxing and refueling.

There was one problem with my plan—I’m a daily writer. I can’t stop writing. So, if I’m not working on my novels, short stories, or anything else that is “for work,” what can I write while still taking this very necessary break?

A Writing Break for Burnout

I decided the solution was daily prompts.

I obviously enjoy writing to prompts and had first thought to dig into my vast resources and pre-select a few that jive with me. But that might feel a little too much like what I do monthly on Patreon and might encourage me to “do something” with whatever I write. The point right now is to not do anything. To keep up my writing practice without trying to set a goal, make something perfect, or even refine it in any way. If I stumble across an idea I want to develop later, great, but everything I’m writing currently should come with guilt-free disposability.

I downloaded an app promising daily prompts and resolved to use them regardless of how much I liked the prompt on its own. And the results? Have been pleasantly surprising!

Knowing whatever I write is meant for My Eyes Only has provided much more freedom than I usually experience while writing. I haven’t needed to worry about coherence and can jump from thought to thought or moment to moment without trying to find a transition or make a note to figure it out later

There’s also no pressure to write anything of substance or quality because no one is going to see it. I don’t have to release it for any audience or please anyone with what I’m writing. Everything can suck! There are no right answers! These are just words to keep my writing streak alive and keep myself connected to creativity!

Having the rule to write to every prompt, even if it’s not one that really engages me is another form of freedom. The first question I ask the prompt is “what will I do with it?” instead of “do I want to do something with this?” That subtle twist of language shifts my focus from me to the writing (and from the future to the present) and has allowed me to write something for every prompt.

Bonus: because I’m not editing and am just putting words on a page, I can complete my 250-word daily minimum in 10 minutes without any fuss!

More and more I’m feeling like using a daily prompt randomly supplied might serve as a good warm-up for my normal writing routine or as a way to reconnect when I’m feeling out of sorts. Has anyone else tried using daily prompts like this? What’s your experience been like?

 

 

For full access to The Write Life and more about what I’ve done to assist with my creative life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.

After an up-and-down month in May with some extreme writing highs and lows concurrent with my vacillating mental health, I decided June needed to be about kindness. Mostly that was kindness in the way I treated and talked to myself, but I also allowed for kindness related to my writing. This writing kindness wasn’t just about writing kind things (though I did a lot of low stakes writing in June), it was about being kind to my writing life, accepting things for how they are, and recontextualizing what productivity and progress means.

The writing life is often NOT kind. We spend hours isolated, chipping away at our ideas, only to have to rewrite and revise and polish (and then rewrite and re-polish)—then to be told all the things we did wrong, or could do better by editors, agents, and audience. The stories we actually manage to finish and publish can be our dearest creations and still be met by rejection or—worse—apathy. The writing business is not kind, which means that writers need to be as kind to ourselves as possible.

What does writing kindness look like in terms of a writing life?

First, it means throwing out expectations and rules dictating what a writing life “should” be.

Do you have to write every day? Nope.
Do you have to write 1,000 words a day? Also, no.
Do you have to write for at least an hour every time you write? Very no.
Write from an outline?
Use Scrivener?
Draft in a Moleskine notebook with your literal blood, sweat, and tears?

Hopefully you’ve caught on that the answer to all those questions is no—unless of course any of those things are part of YOUR writing process. But none of them are part of every writing process and none of them mean you are a “real” writer simply by subscribing to them.

Beyond putting aside what you think a writing life should be, an important writing kindness is changing what you’ll accept as productivity.

Some days writing productivity might mean writing 1,000 words. Other days writing productivity might mean thinking about your story in spare moments as you’re in the shower, folding clothes, or sitting in traffic. Dreaming up character backgrounds and names, working through worldbuilding details, outlining or researching—all of those things can be writing productivity!

Writing does not always mean writing because a lot of writing is thinking. It’s coming up with options, and then making decisions. And to come up with those options, you have to spend time thinking.

If you happen to be someone driven by word counts (cough, me, cough), then you can write down those options and thinking and brainstorming, so you can “get credit” for that productivity, but YOU DON’T HAVE TO! Be kind to yourself! Be kind to your writing life!

Another way to treat your writing life with kindness—and this is one I’m looking to develop more—is by surrounding yourself with supportive people.

Find readers and other writers who will tell you what you’ve written is wonderful and who will encourage you to keep going. Find someone who is so excited for the idea you’re currently obsessed with and check in with them to feed from their enthusiasm. Find a writing group that is interested in what you’re writing. Find people you can talk to about your work. Don’t accept jerks or critics into your creation process! Surround yourself with kindness and wear that kindness like armor and a shield to protect yourself from all the times writing is not kind.

It’s good to be kind to yourself and your writing life because so many other things will not be kind. Writing kindness is one way writers can cope with the rejection and isolation that’s baked into the writing process and find the motivation to keep going.

 

 

For full access to The Write Life and more about what I’ve done to assist with my creative life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.

Even though I’m a daily writer, I go through highs, lows, and specific cycles in which creation might be easier or more difficult. These cycles boil down to three distinct writing modes that define my ability to create at any given time.

  • Consistent—when my production and creative output feels stable and constant and I’m happy with what I’m doing and don’t feel burned out after writing.
  • Stagnant—when I’m not writing much because I feel creatively drained and/or have low energy; when I’m not making progress on writing projects or otherwise feel negative toward my work because I’m not seeing the results I want. (This description makes me feel like a toddler throwing a tantrum because I need a nap… which is probably what I need when I’m feeling stagnant, to be honest.)
  • Overload—when I have huge days of creative production, writing a large number of words or making a lot of progress, but ultimately burn out when the juice is kaput.

Naturally I love it when I’m consistent. Consistency is a blessing. It’s like having the Creativity Gods shine upon you as they keep refilling your sweet head with more words and ideas to spill from your fingers daily, on a schedule, without fail. I cultivate consistency through practices like writing at least 250 words per day and planning, planning, planning, but even with that rigor, forethought, and routine, my writing life can still fall stagnate. 🙁

For the past few months I’ve been caught in a cycle, swapping between the Overload and Stagnant writing modes. It starts with a couple amazing days, churning out words quickly, working for longer periods of time, and writing well above my daily average. The choices I make and the words I use are exactly the right words to convey the meaning and tone of the piece. I can connect ideas in relevant and interesting ways. On these days, I feel great about the work I produce and get it in my head that everything in my writing life is about to turn around and it’s all blue skies!

… and then the stagnation hits.

I’m exhausted after all the production. Or I’ll have finished whatever bit inspired my stint in the Overload mode and have difficulty finding my way into the next thing. And I’ll try and try and try to write, but struggle to put words on the page, make relevant progress, or feel good about what I’m writing. It sucks when my writing goes stagnant, but I am—actually—still writing. It’s a struggle to put words on the page, but I’m getting at least my 250 words in. I might hate 90% of the words I write, but there’s a few sentences that have something interesting in them, or is the idea I want to convey, even if it uses all the wrong words to get there.

While the Stagnant mode is frustrating and I kind of hate it, I have to admit: it is a mode of writing. When I’ve rested enough, or my brain has refocused and I can slip back into Overload or Consistency, I usually find that the Stagnant Mode days left me with something usable.

That something is what writing is about. Writing is rewriting and revising. Every time I put down the wrong words, I get closer to the right words, and those stagnant, painful days of writing are unfortunately part of the process.

 

 

For full access to The Write Life and more about what I’ve done to assist with my creative life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.

Sometimes life throws a wrench into everything.

That happened to me at the beginning of August with several family emergencies and health problems colliding at the same time. We weathered a multi-day struggle of figuring out which able-bodied adult was taking care of who and trying our best to not simultaneously burnout.

During the worst days, I shifted into Minimal Work Mode, which includes writing 250 words per day, responding only to burning questions, and checking in to confirm deadlines won’t be missed. All other work had to sit! It takes me a solid day to recover from this level of emotional stress, so after the first full day of rest, I was able to start shifting into a slightly more regular workflow, just keeping lighter hours and ensuring flexibility in case something else popped up. (Which, uh, it did.)

While you can’t plan for life’s wrenches, you can make generic plans for how those wrenches can affect your writing life. Are you someone who feels comfortable throwing in the towel on writing and taking a break until life settles down again? Or are you like me and you need to write daily (even if it’s not on your main project)? Knowing which you’re comfortable doing, and then creating a plan around your work can save a lot of pain in making that decision while you’re already in the midst of distress.

Here’s My Minimal Writing Mode in full:

  • Check To-Do List for Burning Items
    Is there a project that
    has to have attention today? Usually my writing life isn’t deadline oriented, but when it is, I may have to ensure I can get a submission posted. Many times if I send an email to the stakeholders and explain the situation, they can accept the submission late. (I’m talking about people who I already have a relationship with, not the last day to submit a short story to a magazine—that opportunity might just have to be missed.)

  • 250 Words Per Day
    This is a number I set after many years of practice and a realization that even when I’m very sick, I can put together 250 words reliably and quickly. (This has been tested through intense colds and food poisoning, so I feel confident about it.)

  • Plan to Write a Blog Post
    Blog posts are easier for me to write quickly when I’m under stress. If I have one in progress that doesn’t require research, I can add 250 words to it. But if I need to start something new, I have a pre-written list of topics I can choose from. The pre-written list means I’m not wasting mental energy thinking up something, I just have to choose.

Keeping up my daily writing practice in the middle of family emergencies and health chaos may seem inconsequential, but for me it’s a chance for self-care. Whether I’m writing a blog post or spending time in a fictional world, it’s a chance for me to take a beat, sit with my thoughts, and organize something. (When the rest of my world feels disorganized, that feeling becomes even more important!) Knowing what my “easy” mode is and being able to set the boundaries for the minimal effort to keep me happy means I’m always prepared when life throws a wrench in all my plans.

That said, some of the health chaos will be continuing through the coming months, so I’m placing this blog along with some other monthly responsibilities on hiatus through the end of 2022. Keep up a healthy work-life balance in my absence and feel free to say hello and check in with me on Twitter!

 

 

For full access to The Write Life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.

This month has been a lot of Overworked, Stressed Out, and Too Much. All those things in combination make it very difficult to have a productive creative life. Most days this month I met my minimum writing practice by the skin of my teeth, but I met it and, even on the days when I wrote the least, I still felt proud of what I accomplished.

Taking satisfaction in my creative work is often more useful and positive than writing a couple thousand words. Writing 250 words that progresses the story, develops a difficult to articulate idea, or gets me closer to the version of the scene I want to convey often feels more productive than anything else I’ll work on in a week. And that feeling is one of the things I have to hold on to when I take stock of my progress over this month because word count wise? I did not have a stellar month.

I’ve found a lot of usefulness in quantifying my writing by tracking word count. It’s helped me understand my process and take comfort when it feels like I’m spinning my wheels. I know it takes me about three times as many words to get to the finished product, and that’s normal for me (which also helps me identify how much time it might take to finish a project). I know how many words I can write in a year and what’s pushing my limits. I know reasonable expectations versus delusions of grandeur.

And all that’s useful information to have!

But with so much focus on quantity, I’ve missed recording the qualitative side of writing. Keeping in touch with how I feel about a good writing day—focusing on building confidence and positive feelings associated with my writing—is what can balance out a rough, unfocused day. (Or a busy and exhausting month.)

I’d love to tell you I already came up with a clever tracking system and have been using it all month, but I didn’t realize I needed it until I started writing this post! (I guess that’s on deck coming up, huh?) Right now I feel good about my progress, even if I haven’t been tracking my feelings and am behind in my yearly word count goals. I’m keeping my head above water (even though I am seriously treading at the moment). I’m proud that despite how Overworked, Stressed Out, and Too Much my life has been, I haven’t stopped writing. I haven’t skipped a day. I haven’t lost my focus. (Well, longer than a temporary loss.)

Hopefully you’ve been able to stay positive in whatever it is you’re doing (and are a little less Overworked, Stressed Out, and Too Much than I am).

 

 

For full access to The Write Life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.