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Lobby 2. Welcome Main Community Discussion Board topic #90374
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Subject: "Well, This Works for Me" Previous topic | Next topic
Mesg #90374 "Well, This Works for Me"
Author Wandering Author     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Jun 01st 2007
1569 posts
Date Sat Jan-21-12 02:02 PM
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Sat Jan-21-12 02:05 PMby Wandering Author

I have long ago learned there is no "one rule to rule them all" that works for every writer. At the same time, I do like to read about what works for others, because, sometimes, it will work for me, or I can adapt it to work. I find it especially useful when the reasoning behind the process is explained as well.

So, in that spirit, I'll try to explain something that has worked for me, along with the mental tricks that I've used to make it work.

I've noticed that, if I set a goal, then actually closely track my progress, it gives me a lot of motivation to meet that goal. Obviously, it has to be a realistic goal (setting the bar too high just makes me give up) and one that I'm committed to. Since I really wanted to make a habit of writing more, I decided to try this. In my case, I've found that it works better if I set an average target over a period of time, rather than a rigid rule I must meet every day. (If I were to decide I must write X number of words each and every day, some emergency would come up, I'd fall short one day, and I'd give up because I'd already failed. If I decide I want to average X number of words per day, or better, then I have flexibility. I can catch up if I fall behind. I can try to get ahead, to provide a cushion against emergencies. That way, I am much more likely to stick with it. And, because I know there will be emergencies, I have motivation to try to exceed the goal whenever I can, just to give myself some leeway later. That keeps me from stopping the moment I hit my target for the day.)

So I decided I want to average at least a thousand words a day, over the year. Now, if I simply decided that was a goal, then 'tried' to write as much as I could, I'd soon fall so far behind I'd give up. So what I did was create a simple spreadsheet. It lists every day in the year, with a column for the number of words I actually write that day, the total words I've written so far during the year, and another to calculate and show me how far ahead of or behind my goal I am to date. (A final column, for notes, allows me to mention any factors I think might have helped me or held me back. One note means little, but if I look back and see any particular note frequently correlates with a better or worse than average total, I'll know what works best for me.)

I actually did a trial run toward the end of last year (the last three months of the year), and met my goal for those three months, although not much beyond it. (October didn't go well; NaNo helped me catch up.)

So I started the year with this as a "New Year's resolution" (although something even more than that, in my mind). I fill in the spreadsheet every day, and check how I'm doing. Now, we're not too far into the year - but it has been a terrible year for me so far, in terms of stress, distractions, and what have you. Before I used this strategy, I would have been lucky to have written perhaps a thousand words all year to date. (I do know that's a terrible record for anyone who wants to write. But it does no good to pretend that isn't where I was.) Since I am using this strategy, the results are different. Twenty one days into the year, my total (and I'm not done for today) is 42,301 words.

I can't promise it will work for you. You might need to tweak what I'm doing, or "bribe" yourself with little rewards for keeping up, at least to get started. But there is another ray of hope. I've discovered or relearned two other things. First (and I knew this long ago, but it is being brought home to me with renewed force), the more time you spend with words flowing from your mind onto the screen or page, the easier it gets to keep the process going. Second - habits are powerful things. The more days you can use this to make yourself set words down on paper or disk, the more used you will become to the process, and the more momentum will just land your butt in that chair. So, if you have trouble writing as much as you want to, and you think this or some variation might work for you, why not give it a try? (I'd be interested to hear any variations any of you come up with - maybe they'll help me, too.)

If this keeps on working as well as I hope it will, I'll look back at the end of the year, see what I was able to do in practice, and tweak that daily average up a reasonable amount. I don't want to shove it so high I'll give up. The idea is to keep pushing myself, so over time I get used to doing more and more, until I discover the upper limit I'm capable of. Kind of like training for a marathon. You don't go out the first day and try to run twenty five miles in two hours. At least, I hope you don't.

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Well, This Works for Me [View all] , Wandering Author, Sat Jan-21-12 02:02 PM
  RE: Well, This Works for Me, gilroy, Jan 21st 2012, #1
RE: Well, This Works for Me, Wandering Author, Jan 21st 2012, #2
RE: Well, This Works for Me, RavenCorbie, Jan 22nd 2012, #3
RE: Well, This Works for Me, Wandering Author, Jan 22nd 2012, #6
      RE: Well, This Works for Me, RavenCorbie, Jan 22nd 2012, #7
           RE: Well, This Works for Me, Wandering Author, Mar 03rd 2012, #8
Solid method and congrats on the output!, Optihut, Jan 22nd 2012, #4
RE: Well, This Works for Me, Linda Adams, Jan 22nd 2012, #5
RE: Well, This Works for Me - Progress Update, Wandering Author, Mar 03rd 2012, #9
RE: Well, This Works for Me - Progress Update, elizabeths, Mar 04th 2012, #10
RE: Well, This Works for Me, Dreamerscove, Mar 05th 2012, #11

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