The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another Kind of Yuletide Log

This post I’ve got a quick tip for all of us writers who can’t seem to find the time to write. You know who you are. Work is hectic, the kids are screaming when you get home, dinner isn’t ready and there’s a pile of laundry next to the bedroom door. You deal with all of it and then, when you sit down to write, you notice that you haven’t mown the lawn in a couple of weeks and the grass is mocking you (admittedly only a problem for my Hawaiian lawn right now).

The tip? Keep a writing log. Whether your goal is a novel, short story collection, or a spiral bound collection of flashes about gardening, a log lets you see your progress and makes the insurmountable task that much easier to mount.

Let’s say you’re working on a novel. A big one. A planned 165,000 word manuscript about the segregation of big city neighbourhoods and the clash of cultures this engenders. Using the word count function of your preferred software you learn that you average 350 words an hour. So if you can find 5 hours a week to devote to writing 5 x 350 = 1750 words a week and that novel is wrapped up in a little under 2 years. Not bad, eh? Get aggressive with your writing time and a 1st draft of your tome could be ready for revision much quicker.

A log doesn’t have to go into detail about the content of the day’s writing (but it can if you want), it simply has to document how many words you wrote that day and a couple of points on where the story was at and where the story wanted to go. That’s it. I can vouch that tangible, reviewable evidence of progress is great motivation. I just started the log thing this year and I’ve gotten more writing done early in 2009 than I did in almost all of 2008. Scary but true. I even entered this blog post into my log: couldn’t think of anything to blog about (again) so I wrote about you, log, and how wonderful and amazing you are and how I’m going to go out and get you your very own notebook so I can start handwriting you and have your pages to rub when I need comforting…

Err, time to go.


Blogger Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

When rounding the far turn in my latest manuscript, I kept a running total of my word count in each sitting, calculating how much was left in my goal and how far I had progressed.

When it came down to the deadline crunch, it helped me see how close I was to my goal.

Of course, it was a tangible goal, with a concrete date and a required word count.

We'll see how well it went when the publisher gets back to me and tells me it sucked and I have to start over again. Ack!

Sat Jan 17, 10:41:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger t said...

Heh, oh, *that* other yuletide log. Since workload's increased, I am coming home brain dead and feeling wholly uninspired these past two weeks. But I like where I could go with your log idea. At this point, everything is worth a try. I get really cranky when I'm not working on something.

Sun Jan 18, 10:53:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

I like this idea, Steve. I'm into my novel and feeling the need for a kick in the pants some days. I'll try the log and let you know if it works for me.

Thu Jan 22, 11:49:00 pm GMT-5  

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