This post is approximately 500 words, and it has something for writers and data geeks!
The Summer of 2018, I started to get worried. I was 2 1/2 years and 170,000 words into the book. Writing wasn’t starting to feel like the all-consuming (in a good way!) thing it had been. I talked about this back in my October 1 Writing Update, and how I felt I was getting back into the rhythm. I had decided to make the time to write because I was suddenly aware that I hadn’t been. As you’ll see below, it still took some work.
This is going to sound weird, but sometimes I had to remind myself that I was writing a book. How does a person forget about 170,000 words? Sigh.
To fix this, I needed to 1) have a reminder and 2) shame myself a bit. A daily alarm or BUJO had had limited success: I’d just snooze away the reminder or turn the journal page. I’m a visual guy, and my memory is heavily dependent on reminders right in front of my face. In late June, I started tracking my daily writing in a notes widget on my phone’s home screen. Now, several times a day, I could see how much I was writing. Or as was the case for a long time, how much I WASN’T writing.
Because I’m data guy, I turned my tracking sheet into a chart (but just for this post). Correction, an embarrassing chart. These are all the days my fingers were typing away.
For many, if not all of the people reading this, that four months from June to October is an unacceptable amount of time to lose. Yeah, I agree. Sometimes family stuff and work stuff and brain-wiring stuff just get in the way, and those four months were chock full. But, these things happen to everyone. We adjust. We find ways to get our rhythm back, especially when it comes to things that are important to us. Like a 170,000-word book. Sometimes, less important things get put aside, for good or ill.
I absolutely love seeing those giant spikes of activity. Those are the kind of days where you’re living the dream, and it’s more play than work. But what’s more important to me is the consistency. Sure there are gaps of a few days here and there when I’m not writing, but the habit has been reformed.
Remember how I mentioned the importance of that visual reminder? Well, it helps not only with fingers-plus-keyboard, but it keeps the idea top-of-mind, as my marketing friends like to say. So while I might not be writing daily, I’m thinking about the book more regularly (which the chart doesn’t show). Learn more about the importance of that here: Writing is Pre-Writing and Moving Full Speed At The Starting Line.
As writers, we’re responsible for most of the motivation here. Sure, we might have friends and family cheering us on, but they can’t put our butts in the chairs. If we lose our momentum, we need to get it back. Perhaps a visual reminder like mine will help you. I continue to use it, even if I’ve gotten out of my rut. I’d rather minimize the chance of future ruts. I’m sure you would, too.
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© Michael Wallevand, December 2018