The so-so news first. Only about 3,500 words down last week. Which, considering previous months’s outputs broken down by week is not all that bad. Just, when compared to the immediate few weeks before, it’s lower than average. I had reasons, mostly having to do with me not being near a computer for several days. Looking forward to getting back to it this week.
That said, some of those words went to finishing a short story that I’ve written mostly as a joke, but actually ended up sort of enjoying it. Sent it off to the local writing group for eyeball-feedback, which should be sometime in early September.
Now, the cool news. I keep a little spreadsheet to keep track of all the writing I do. (OCD much? Maybe.) The form this has taken has changed a lot over the years, having started out as simple tally in Excel then becoming a paper-based check box system with word count totals, and now a Numbers file where I also try to note location, time of day and related work and break down the words by project. The word count is great, but the goal is to identify good habits that I can leverage to better my output or eliminate bad habits that hamper my efforts. (Also, it’s FUN.)
But one of the best things about the spreadsheet is that I can’t argue with it.
It’s all too easy to sit glumly in your chair and think, “Uh, I haven’t done anything, I suck.” Because even if you are writing, there’s that little voice (at least I have one) that wants to minimize every accomplishment no matter how small. And if you aren’t keeping track, in those quiet and lonely moments you start to believe that little voice because you’ve got nothing to back it up.
Well, did my numbers for last week, and lookie here: I’ve written over a 100,000 words this year, not including my blog, not including my free-writing (both stats I track and both of which topped 24K and 21K respectively) and certainly not including my compulsive journaling habit (a phrase I don’t use lightly).
That’s not bad. That’s actually pretty cool.
If you don’t have hard numbers at your fingertips, don’t for a second think that the voice is right. When I started keeping track, my numbers were not like this. It was all small bits, little scraps here and there. But they get bigger, they build on themselves. Pick your metaphor — cooking, running, art, whatever. You start out small but you don’t stay small.
I don’t sweat the individual day’s word count anymore. Like I said, it’s all about the trends. Best of all, when I see a prolonged dip in productivity I can go back and look at the data. What was going on then? What was happening? Was I really not writing or was working on the behind-the-scenes stuff, the building, the dreaming? I’ll also see those other dips and see that after those dips came more words ’cause I kept at it, kept faith. Then the writing keeps faith with me.