Okay, since my last update, I've written 7005 words. Not great, but not bad either. My goal is to write 1500 words a day until November 1st, or 2000 on days where my hubby has a meeting (which means I get to go to Starbucks, Cups, or Panera to write lol). I'm still on target (actually a bit ahead right now--yay!) so I'm pleased with that.
To achieve my goals, I've started several different projects to keep me going.
1. First and foremost, I've started an Excel spreadsheet to track my progress each month. I did it for nearly all of September (I started on the fourth), and it really helped to see what my strengths and weaknesses are. One thing I noticed was that Friday, Saturday, and Monday were the days I either didn't write at all, or I only got a hundred or so words out before I gave up. I think it's pretty obvious why. Friday and Saturday are when the hubby and I go out on dates or run errands. I get back on track by Sunday, then Monday I need to adjust to my weekly schedule again, which often means writing gets set aside. Now that I know where my weaknesses are, I'm going to try and overcome them this weekend.
My strengths were no surprise to me, but it's still nice to see the progress. I write the most in the middle of the week (Tuesday to Thursday) between 2 and 4 pm. I used to be a night writer, and I think I still would be if I could keep my own schedule. Alas, I'm no longer in university. I have a husband with an 8-5 job, and I can't stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning lol.
It's also nice to know how many words I can write in an hour if I really sit down to work. Before, I used to think, oh man, I have to write over 1000 words today. That's going to take forever. Now I know that I'm averaging about 750 words an hour. I never would have guessed that if I really set my mind to it, I could accomplish so much. Granted, they are rough words, but I'm giddy to see so much progress. I want to write THE END on this story so badly. I can go back and edit rough words. I can't edit a scene that hasn't been written yet.
2. I look at writing as a job now. Even though I don't make any money at this (yet), I'm trying to wrap my mind around the fact that this is a job for me. I looked at university as my job for over four years, and I certainly didn't make money doing that (HAH, yeah right). I used to fly through papers, getting A's and even A+'s on a routine basis. So why can't I fly through my stories? I certainly didn't write a clean essay the first time 'round. In fact, those papers used to go through numerous edits over several days (sometimes several weeks, depending on the depth and scope of the paper). I can't let myself get away with not writing for days at a time. This is my job now, and if I sign with an agent and get a book deal, it really will be my job. You know what they say: dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Well, I'm in my PJs with my hair in a messy braid. I'm certainly dressed to be an author, but now I need to act like one.
3. I mark off my successful days on my calendar. I received a lovely little calendar with pictures of my home province from my parents for Christmas, which I keep on the wall in my makeup/hair area of the bathroom. In other words, I see it every day. In fact, sitting on the bed right now, I can see the calendar reflected in the mirror.
After taking advice from a CaRWA sister of mine, I now cross out the days where I meet my goal with a blue highlighter. Since I'm OCD, it plays with my mind to see a blank square surrounded by blue X's. Essentially, I'm trying to work off of my own neurotic behavior to make everything symmetrical. It's working so far.
3. I'm reading THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS by James Scott Bell. I try and read a few points each day to keep my mind active. It's like reading a blog post on writing every day--very helpful.
4. I write for an hour every day with my CP, Jena Lang. This has been VERY helpful. Seriously. Having someone relying on me to write every day has kept my butt in the chair more than once. I'll often think, neh, I don't feel like writing today. Maybe I'll go read or watch a movie. Then I glance at the time and realize Jen and I are supposed to write in five minutes. Well, I can't very well cancel on her. That's like cancelling a lunch date on short notice--you just don't do that. She's relying on me just as much as I'm relying on her.
5. I'm using my notebook to plot the next few scenes ahead of time. This has been invaluable to me. I don't really know if my pacing is okay in the story right now (I'm trying not to worry about that until the story is done and I can read it from start to finish), but it certainly helps to plot the next few chapters before I actually get to them. It also means I'm flying through notebooks. All writers like those pretty notebooks from B&N, but I never used them. They sat on my shelf, collecting dust. Now, however, I'm on my last one! My birthday and Christmas can't come soon enough, LOL!
So there you have it. These techniques are working really well for me. I think they'd be good on their own, but together they're wonderful. Do you have any techniques to keep yourself on track?