Thursday, March 26, 2015

Commitment, A Plan and Time to Get It Done

Have you ever searched your writer-soul? Recently, I did just that, questioning my literary dedication, not just to writing, but to seeing my works complete and out there for others to read. Why? Because I’ve written three and a half books, none of which are published and only one is completed. That’s not counting my first, half-written manuscript that died with a crashed month-old hard drive, the thinly-veiled memoir that had a name and everything.

While searching my writer-soul did I discover why I keep leaving manuscripts lying around gathering dust? No. It didn’t seem necessary. Or relevant. But I did have an epiphany.
In order to get my books completed and in to readers’ hands I needed a personal commitment, a plan and time to get it done.

So I committed to spending at least 24 hours a week editing, writing, doing research, whatever it takes to bring those books to publication and distribution, beginning with my most current project. Why twenty-four hours? I figured I should be willing to give at least one day a week to that which holds my heart.

As for the plan, it’s a bit nebulous at this point, focused on completing edits on the current WIP and getting it to beta readers, then diving back in to the half-written second book. Once I’ve completed all three volumes of the trilogy and found (or made) homes for them, I’ll revisit the others.

Now. Other than NaNoWriMo 2014, I’ve never been a disciplined writer in any way, shape or form, but I decided to keep track of my writing time. Imagine that. You guys probably magically knew to do that, but for some reason, it’d never occurred to me and if it had, I probably would’ve poo-poo’d it as a device to turn my passion in to work.

At first I scribbled it out in a notebook, which wasn’t ideal, so I created an Excel spreadsheet. When I’m ready to begin, I record the time, word count, page number, and where I am, what I’m eating or drinking (I write a lot at coffee shops and restaurants and even at home I tend to eat and drink while working.) It’s fun to look back and read my notes, things like “I’m soooooo sleepy” or “Wow, was that three hours? No way!” When I’m done, I record my counts and tally my time.
My Excel spreadsheet-feel free to copy the format

The result? Productivity out the ying-yang, like never before. Last week was the first (in the month since I began tracking) that I hit the twenty-four hour mark, but I’m close every week and the goal fuels a fire that burns hotter with time and results. In four weeks I’ve completed edits on 200 of the now-418 page manuscript, watched the word count dwindle from 108K to 102K and knocked seven pages off the total length.

And all that started with a little writer-soul searching. Is there anything in your writer-soul that needs searching? Anything holding you back or keeping you from being as productive (or fill-in-the-blank) as you'd like? What tools do you use to keep moving in the right direction?

~ Olivia J. Herrell


  1. I love this post Olivia, and I'm so planning to "borrow" your excel spreadsheet.
    I struggle with making time for writing and I think this is a great way to make (and keep) writing a weekly priority.

  2. Thank you Merissa! That was also an issue for me and the spreadsheet has worked wonders. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    ~ Olivia J. Herrell

  3. I love this. My problem isn't always time, but worrying what people are going to think of my writing. When I let go, everything flows so much better.

  4. I kept track of my writing time for most of the month of January, because I was trying to see if I could come up with some kind of schedule to increase my productivity. I learned two things: my life is way too variable to fit into a schedule, and I spend WAY too much time on the internet. Even though I didn't accomplish my stated goal (create a schedule) those insights have helped me get more done.

  5. Oh, commitment...where art thou gone off to? Mine has gone AWOL lately. I haven't written much AT ALL since NaNo. *sigh*