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?