Writers seem to have a natural ability to beat themselves up when they are slow to show progress on a story or novel.
There’s a lot to overcome along the way:
- Finding time
- Fighting doubts that make you hesitate with each word
- Discouragement when it seems to be taking too long and your other writer friends are turning out book after book
Last week’s #IndieChat, moderated by BiblioCrunch, talked about motivation. It took awhile, but I finally figured out that the best way for me to stick with something was to track it. When confronted with the evidence of my efforts, or lack there of, I found myself more motivated to make time to write.
There’s science to this approach. Eric Barker talks about this in his blog post How To Motivate Yourself: 3 Steps Backed By Science. Writing down a goal makes it real, and once it’s real we’re more likely to follow through.
When I began writing fiction, I started with a simple spreadsheet. I tracked every day, not just the days I wrote. This showed the progress I lost due to not showing up to the page. I tracked morning pages, as well as word count toward my manuscript. It doesn’t matter how you choose to track progress, whether it’s days written, time spent (minutes writing), or word count. Each can be measured towards a goal.
Here’s a sample of what it looked like.
Click to download this spreadsheet. It’s yours to customize.
Make your goals realistic.
Not everyone will be able to write a novel in 30 days, otherwise everyone would win NANOWRIMO badges. If your life is busy, as it is for most of us, set a time length. 30-Minutes 4-5 times a week will give you big leaps in page and word totals. This approach will also work for those intimidated by word count.
If word count is your thing, set it low — say 500. You’ll find that’s just enough to get you started and often you’ll write much more. If writing is tough for the day, you then have permission to stop at 500 without feeling like you gave up.
Since I adopted Scrivener a few years ago, I gave up my spreadsheet and now use the Project Target and Session Target tools. You even get to set a deadline to hitting your overall project goal. Subtle pressure there, but one I can live with.
If you’ve discovered a good workflow for tracking your writing goals, whether it’s an app or a function within Word or Pages, please share in the comments.
One Last Tip
Back up your work & your goal tracking.
Nothing makes your heart sink like losing a doc that you’ve spent months crafting. It happens. Hard drives and computers fail, a sync between your iPad and app glitches. I’ve had that panicked dash to log into Dropbox when I realized I accidentally deleted a file with over 30k hard written words inside. My best hack is linking my work to a Cloud based server. The file I found in Dropbox was intact and quickly copied back to my computer.
Scrivener also has behind the scenes backups with Dropbox so you always have a copy of your work on your computer and online. Dropbox’s mobile app gives you on the go access to your files. Box is another cloud storage services that works in a very similar way, with free accounts offering a decent amount of free storage before you have to pay.
Online Resources for Writers
#IndieChat is a live Twitter chat that takes place every Tuesday 9pm-10pm EST. Follow @BiblioCrunch to stay updated on each week’s topic & time changes.
About Eric Barker: His blog, Barking Up The Wrong Tree, is a great resource of inspiration and psychology that applies to many different aspects of daily living and getting the best out of life. It’s one of my favorite emails to open each week.
Have a great week!