Writing-

Always writing. It’s one way I know I am a writer, because I can’t stop. [See December, when I tried to take a break.]

750 Words is a site where I write privately. I’ve blogged about it before. Today they went to a subscription service to help pay for the site for new members, and asking older ones to donate when they can. I have donated this year, and if I have extra I will again soon.

As of today, I have been a member at 750 Words for 2 years. I have written on 675 days (of 731 total). I have written as few as 750 words and as many as 6827. I am currently on a 57 day streak. That break last December didn’t just break my habit, it made it very hard to resume. My average number of words per day came out to 994.

I find it much more satisfying to say I’ve written 671,196 words. It also makes me want to go add four more to today’s total. I’m quirky that way. It’s not even all the words I’ve written, between rewrites in the current draft and blog posts and a few other things that didn’t get captured in on the site because I wrote them without internet access. I’ve even done my 750 on my phone once because we weren’t connected to the internet any other way. With that much dedication I ought to have a longer streak than 57 days, but I will be patient and I’ll get there again.

It’s silly how much harder I try to do something like that when they tell me stats and give me little badges because I’m on a streak of so many days or I completed 500,000 words.

I think I need to do something special when I hit 1,000,000 words. Just because I can keep track of them now, not because I haven’t written that many in the past. I wish I knew when I hit that first million words, but it might have been before I ever joined 750 Words.  

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Resolutions

I find it so difficult to start a new year with resolutions, and yet I keep doing it. This year has been difficult because of a flu, so I allowed a delay for the start of all the new things I want to do. 

There are always things I want to do. There are a lot of things that don’t get done that I intend to do, but that’s just a regular day. Finally this week I dug out my notebook and made a list. All right, it might have been a shopping list in one column and a list of chores on the other side, but steno books are great for two-column lists and it helped me focus. 

The other thing I did was get out a composition book for each project I am working on. One of them is for reading books and notes on things that I read about writing or other things. It helps, though it is cumbersome to drag them all up or down the stairs. It makes me wonder why I can’t work on just one project at once. 

I’m also neck-deep in notes for a project I’ve been working on for three years. That doesn’t seem like a lot to say, but it feels like forever. I want this one off my docket and out for publication this year, so I need to keep moving on the notes front and rewrite the thing. [This one also adds a three-inch binder to the pile of composition books. I bet I look funny grabbing out my pile of books when the kids go to bed.]

No wonder I’ve simply been leaving them in the other room. The new habit to cultivate is to get one out every night and work on it. I also resumed my 750words a day. I missed one day this month, but it feels better to work out my little brainstorms that way. Missing last month I felt like I couldn’t focus on a thing (even though I gave myself the month off in order to get other things done – none of them really got completed).

More coming soon. Hope the new year is happy for you and that many good resolutions work their way into good habits.

What Hinders Your Productivity?

Or maybe the question ought to be – have you looked into what hinders your productivity? It’s something I think about occasionally. I’ll admit it probably isn’t often enough.

Right now I’m a stay-at-home mother. The writing is a side gig that occurs mostly when my little one sleeps. The SAHM gig is not to be regarded in any way less demanding or rewarding than other career options, but a statement that my time is claimed. Life hinders my productivity in domestic tasks, but I don’t tell my two-year-old that she can’t get out her toys, even if it does look like a war zone. We’re learning to pick them all up before bedtime.

More often we point our fingers to the obvious procrastination markers like Facebook or Twitter and try to justify them as promotion. I recently ran into an article saying how people ought to only check that stuff twice a day. I’m not sure how that’d work for Twitter, but Facebook would be easy enough.

Maybe the trick to becoming a productive moonlighting writer is to know why you’re writing and not just the things that are also taking up that coveted downtime. I write because I love exploring new worlds through fiction. I love stringing sentences together (even if they’re not very good at first) and sharing them with others. I enjoy the struggle to find the right words to portray something in my head. With that in mind, I crank out a lot of words.

Over 250,000 words since I began writing at 750words last May. I had no idea I could be so prolific. Sure, I’ve done NaNoWriMo and completed the challenge without breaking a sweat or trying to finish in the 11th hour, but I haven’t kept track of what I do normally. While the 750words site has focused me to write every day and not in the fits and starts I had done before, it also keeps track of what I’ve done since I joined.

I don’t have a full novel written there yet. My last project has morphed into something I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle just yet and I’m working on editing a young adult manuscript more than whipping a wayward work-in-progress into shape.

The other thing I really like about those kinds of statistics is it will track how long it takes me to spew out my words. Some days are a struggle, full of distractions and nearly an hour sessions spent trying to find words. Others can be as short as seven minutes to make the minimum word count. A couple have been spent with a timer and an idea and simply throwing out the ideas as fast as my brain can make it up.

Of the times when my daughter is asleep, I rarely wake before she does. So between writing during her afternoon nap and after she goes to sleep at night, I am much more productive in the afternoon hours and try to take advantage of that. I also shut down other distractions like Facebook.

Lately I feel like I’ve been just waiting, waiting, waiting for the baby to be born. [If you believe the computer, I’m due today. If you believe the 8-week ultrasound, I was due yesterday.]  That’s been hindering my productivity more than I like to admit. How much could be done while I’m not feeling the best but not as sleep-deprived as I soon will be? Another blog post? Another article read? Another chapter edited? Another story written? Another submission sent off?

I’ve managed to get my iPad mostly in order to be my productivity station on the go. I only have three games loaded on it. Mostly I have been reading a bunch of articles and keeping up through other social outlets. When the games become a serious time sink, I’ll have to let them go, too. It’s always good to have goals and keep them in view to know what can be achieved.

I believe goals ought to be flexible and intended to stretch abilities. When I see the goals I want to make happen, I work harder to keep those results at the top of my list. When I allow for life or other things to intrude, I make it more likely that I will stick with the goal instead of just throw in the towel. Take 750words as one example: I haven’t written every day since I joined on May 1. I’ve missed 12 days. Most of them were in a row during a difficult couple weeks. I’ve given myself permission to lose a day or two with the impending baby, though I’m trying not to use that.

Whatever hinders me is something I allow to happen. My choices lead me to where I will be next. Not everything has to be productive – not every moment, not every choice, not every little detail – but I manage to get things done. Maybe that’s just because no one’s sold me on a reason to spend 3000 hours on a WoW profile…

What do you think about productivity and downtime and how they affect your writing and your goals?