About two weeks ago, in this post https://lurkingmusings.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/finding-the-time/, I talked about the pressures of modern life and how it is sometimes difficult to find the time to write when there are loads of other calls on an individual’s time. As a result of this post, I decided to test out a way of improving productivity. The rules were simple:
* 200 words a day minimum
* This included work on any writing project or submissions to guest blogs. It did not include any writing on forums, Facebook, Twitter, this blog or my own personal blog.
* Weekends were exempt from this and I was allowed to take an occasional holiday if there were special circumstances.
*Daily word counts had to be posted on Twitter under the #amwriting hashtag.
Well, today I am reporting that the experiment seems to have been a roaring success. I had two days off due to being in the Lake District without a laptop for the weekend (and so missed Friday and Monday’s counts due to travel) but other than that I have managed to exceed the minimum count on each day. Not only that, yesterday I completed a story that had been lurking on my hard drive for months with no progress and got it sent to a beta reader for assessment.
I think the key here is the low minimum word count. Now, every writer is different and therefore has different ideal working patterns. For some a high target word count may be beneficial – an impetus to strive for greater things. However, from what I have seen, it seems to be full time writers who follow that philosophy – those who not only have a pressing impetus already in the form of ‘do this or you don’t get paid’ but who also have more free time in which to achieve higher targets.* For part timers like myself, I am not so sure this approach is as useful. A too high a target in an environment with lots of other demands on your time might be off putting and lead to you not doing any writing at all in favour of the more important tasks. Psychologically, setting a low target has given me a series of easy wins, each one a boost to the ego and a spur to keep going. On days where the muse has struck or I have lots of free time, I have managed far more words than I even managed when I set higher targets and on my busiest recent days (including one where illness and an interview scuppered most of my free time) I still managed my 200 and therefore felt like I had achieved something.
I am therefore going to carry on with this method, starting with another project tomorrow and maybe some more guest blog entries. I am currently pondering what to write for a guest blog about horror. Succubi and aliens are currently clamouring at my brain’s door for attention.
*And, yes, I appreciate that even full time writers don’t have all the time they would like to spend writing because they also have editing, publicity, research and so on but many part timers have to do all that AND other things as well.