Progress Update 12/15/15

Not my best moment

This is definitely one of those times when I’d prefer to skip the update. Suck it up, Adam.

I’ve performed poorly in my writing habit since the last update. Of course, I have an excuse. (What kind of writer would I be if I didn’t have an excuse for not writing?) The class I taught this fall was wrapping up. My mornings, evenings, and weekends have been dominated by grading. Few things are more time consuming than grading writing, especially if the teacher truly wants students to improve. It’s been tough to strike a balance between my need to complete the grades for the class and my need to write. On a positive note, the struggle has highlighted some opportunities for improvement.

  • I need to optimize any process that can potentially cut into my writing time. Things like grading or chores around the house can be done more efficiently. I’ve been getting better at this kind of thing, but I can still make my repetitive processes more efficient.
  • On a related note, I need to guard my writing time. I definitely had days that I could have graded and done writing, but because I wasted time on social media or shows, the only remaining time went to grading. Writing needs to come first, every darn day.

What's next?

One last thing—I’ve decided that my current book project will be an introduction to the writing process. This is a topic I’ve studied and taught academically, and also something I’ve explored on a personal level over the years. I’m excited to set up a target for completing this project. Stay tuned for updates on the book. I will most likely be sharing excerpts and ask readers to weigh in on my choices.

Progress Update 12/3/15

Sometimes things go according to plan…

This past two weeks have not been my best for writing ritual. I really overcommitted this month to a variety of responsibilities. The upshot is that I spread myself too thin, and my writing habit has suffered. I’m reminded that even though creating a routine can be done in spite of busyness, filling one’s life with even more activity will inevitably make it harder to be consistent with the routine. It’s obvious, but still easy to forget, especially when a person starts getting good at their routine.

During the first half of this month, I rocked my writing ritual. I was very consistent. That consistency caused me to very casually take on more activities. I reached a critical mass of responsibilities. That’s when I got sick. (It’s amazing how often those two things coincide: overcommitment and then illness.) I needed more sleep to get well, and the time I used to sleep cut into my writing periods. After I got well, the Thanksgiving weekend rolled around. New obligations vied for my time, and again, my writing suffered. All this reminds me of how hard we must fight to protect that chunk of time we spend writing. If we don’t fiercely defend that ritual, it loses every time.

The upshot of all this: my participation in National Novel Writing Month really dried up during the second half of November. I’m sad about this. My final word count was 5637. This is a laughable attempt at the prescribed goal of 50,000. That said, I didn’t really think I’d make that amount because of how busy I was going into the month. (My decision to try NaNoWriMo was very last-minute.) Realistically, I figured I’d reach the 10,000 word mark, and if I hadn’t flaked out during the last two weeks, I would have reached my goal. Here are my key reflections on participating in NaNoWriMo.

  • Writing the daily target of 1667 words is very difficult for people with a full time job and other responsibilities. Based on my typical writing speed, this would take me about three hours, and at this point in my life, I really can’t spare three hours.
  • That said, I found 500 words very manageable. At this rate, I could have done 10,000 words. If I undertake the challenge next year, this will probably be my goal.
  • I have been reminded that it is crucial to guard my writing time. It’s also vital that if I miss a day or two, I get back on track as soon as possible. The longer we stay away from the routine, the harder it is to get refocused.
  • Most importantly, the first two weeks were a highly rewarding experienced that deepened my appreciation for daily writing habits. I know that I can be consistent in writing every day. 

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I will return to working on a book related to writing routines. I’m excited to get back to that.

I’d love to hear how you are doing. Do you have a book that you are working on? Please relate your experiences!

Progress Update 11/12/15

Bad+Good=Good

I'm excited to share my recent writing activity. It's not all positive: I have good news and bad news. 

Bad news

  • First, this update is late. I want to stick to weekly updates to keep myself accountable. 
  • Also, my participation in National Novel Writing Month has not created as much content as I had hoped. I am well behind the target for word averages. 

 

Good news

  • I have worked on my novel almost every day. Tuesdays are the day I teach a class in the evening. Between that and my day job, it's extremely hard to fit in a writing session, although I'll try next Tuesday. Aside from Tuesdays, I have been consistent. 
  • I've also made progress on a guide that I will be offering readers soon. It's a review of my favorite resources for writers. I will be offering it via email. 

Goals for next week

Next week I will try to give a more timely update and to write more words for my NaNoWriMo project. My main goal will remain the same, however: write every day. 

The takeaway

Even though I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to, I consider the past week a victory because I wrote every day. As I write in my last update, I think that achieving small goals is far better than failing at big ones. This will continue to be my focus. I encourage you, reader--if you struggle to win big in your writing, make your goal to write a little every day. This will build the skill and mentality that will later take you where you want to go.