It’s been a busy few weeks. A really busy few weeks.
I’ve had interviews for permanent work, calls from agencies about potential short term work, calls from tutoring clients about arranging appointments and this weekend was spent in a no signal zone in the middle of nowhere. Add to this the housework I am expected to do, the Crits that are essential for the writing group I am part of and all the publicity I have been pulling together for Pirates and Swashbucklers and it makes for some fairly busy days.
It occurred to me yesterday that, in the midst of all this, I hadn’t actually managed to do any writing at all. Not one word. Not a single creative act.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not short of ideas. I am swimming in many potentially fun ideas for writing projects. I also have several existing projects on the go which need some tender, loving care. These projects are sitting there on my hard drive, wailing plaintively at me and begging me to pay attention to them. The trouble is that I have little time left in my day to do any actual writing and, quite often, by the time I do manage to sit down and think ‘I can do some writing now’ I am too tired for it to be any use.
It seems to be a common problem. I know that several writers have expressed similar sentiments, even successfully published ones. John Scalzi (http://whatever.scalzi.com/), for example, frequently posts about how his internet usage often interferes with his writing and how he occasionally imposes a ‘no internet until X words have been written’ rule to prevent unnecessary prevarication.
So, the question here is obvious. How can this situation be changed? I’m not a full time writer. Like many out there who haven’t hit the big time, I need to work to pay the bills and put food in my mouth. Well, at least contribute to household expenses (one of the benefits of marriage: shared household expenses ). I also like working (and not just because the people you meet are a great source of ideas for characters) because it adds a certain amount of routine to my life. I also like living in a house that is clean, have clothes that have been laundered, eat food that has been lovingly prepared and cooked and a garden that is not auditioning for the location of a Tarzan film. Getting these things done takes time, time I feel I could be writing.
So, I have made a decision. I am going to attempt to set a target. It seems to be a common method to beat this problem so I am going to see if it works for me. Because I know my personal schedule is very chaotic and I can’t be sure how much ‘writing’ time I am going to get each day, I am going to set my personal target as very low – 200 words a day. This may seem laughable compared to targets ranging from 500 to 2000 words from some writers but I see this as a way to encourage daily writing rather than the occasional flashes of it I do currently. Given that on one of these rare writing sprees I managed more than 800 words in a short space of time and that was the only serious writing I did all week I think 200 a day will easily beat that. It’s an easy target to reach, I will more than likely (I hope) beat it every day by at least a few hundred words and there is less chance of failing this on the really busy days.
There will be conditions, of course. Weekends are exempt, but I may use them to catch up on work if I miss any days during the week Also, I am considering any guest blog posts I write to count towards the daily word count. These blog posts don’t count but anything written to be published elsewhere does.
I am starting this as of today and will be reporting my word counts on #amwriting on Twitter if you want to keep track.
Finally: If you are a writer, what techniques do you use to improve your productivity? Any other ideas out there which can be shared? Feel free to comment below…