Tracking Writing for consistency
One of the best techniques for improving your writing consistency is to track your progress. By using a simple method for keeping a record of your sessions, you will see the accumulated evidence of your work. Viewing this record over time will motivate you, and the desire to keep the string of successes unbroken will deter you from skipping.
I’ve found four methods that work particularly well for tracking. Pick one and try it for a while. If it doesn’t work, try one of the others. You may even find, as I have, that using multiple methods simultaneously can help. Each approach has unique advantages.
The easiest way to track your progress is to use a physical calendar that you keep somewhere prominent, preferably near your writing space. Every day after you have written, put an X through the day on the calendar. Do this repeatedly and you will get to see an aggregate of Xs over the course of the month. It’s fulfilling to watch the month fill up with crossed out days, and gradually, you will become very reluctant to miss a day and ruin the look of the calendar.
This technique was made popular by Jerry Seinfeld, who made a goal for himself to write a new joke every day. He would put an X through the day and found over time that this habit was ingrained; he'd automatically write a joke every day. This is a great technique; I've seen people use it with regular success. I think the best part of this technique is its simplicity.
If you're a traditionalist, it's hard to beat a pen and paper journal. You could also employ a digital journal, either with a dedicated program like Day One, or a general text-based program like Word or Evernote.
Just a simple entry each day will help you to stay in the groove and maintain your routine. If you feel like writing at length, go for it, but I recommend keeping the entries short and uncomplicated. It may be helpful to list how many words you wrote, what specific project you worked on, and how you are feeling about your writing.
A goal-tracking app
Thousands of habit-tracking apps are available on computer, tablet, or phone. While many of these apps are general in their focus, some of them can be tailored to focus on writing in particular.
I use a simple app called Commit on my iPhone. This app helps me to track the number of days that I have written successively. As simple as it is, the app helps me to stay consistent. The longer I go without missing a day, the less willing I am to skip.
I'm very transparent about my love the for the Scrivener program. Scrivener is sort of like Photoshop for writers, and like Photoshop, it has more features than the average user will ever employ. One of my favorite features in the program is for target word counts. This feature allows you to set an overall writing goal that you spread over a length of time (a week or a month, for example). The program will average out the number of words you need to write each day to keep you on track. Every time you reach the goal, you get a satisfying ding sound. If you don't reach the target or exceed the target in a given day, the program will adjust the number of words needed to stay on track for your goal completion date. The progress-tracking features on Scrivener are extremely helpful, particularly when writing a long work, such as a book.
Stay on track
Whatever method you choose, try keeping a record of your writing. The discipline of tracking serves as a parallel for the routine of writing, reinforcing your daily habit. You will become more connected to your work and ultimately, a stronger, more confident writer.