Happy day four of the writing challenge!
I’m starting to feel the heat. I often begin challenges (or projects, new collaborations, promised book chapters, etc) with a lot of enthusiasm. Soon, however, reality hits. Like all of us, I am already overcommitted and finding time to add one more thing, even when it is a necessary thing like writing, can quickly seem impossible. The shiny and new phase is over so quickly. Four days in and the shiny and new phase of this challenge has come and gone. I’m in the “changing my ways for the better” stage. Is that why we called it a challenge?
With my chosen rules, 25 minutes a day of uninterrupted writing, time isn’t really the challenge, per se. Of course anyone can find 25 extra minutes in a day. All I would have to do is only check my email on my phone 40 instead of 50 times and I would easily free up the time. I’m not quite sure what I mean when I say I don’t have the time. It’s not literally the minutes in the day. I think what I’m coding as time is really about finding the mental space to write in a day filled with immediate demands and distractions, whether those are self-inflicted like my smart phone, or the normal business of family, teaching, and administrative responsibilities. It doesn’t feel like I have the mental space to switch gears and take on writing. Part of that is because I find writing challenging. It is the hardest part of my job. It is also one of the most rewarding, but I have to wade through a lot of fear and resistance to get into it. It’s the fear and the difficulty that make me feel like there isn’t enough time to ever begin.
One of the first tips you will find in the writing productivity literature (my go-to genre for work-based procrastination) is to keep a writing log. I have gone through phases where I record how much and for how long I am writing. I like to keep short notes about what the project is and what specific task I’m taking on. It’s certainly not something I do with any kind of rigor, but I decided to do with this challenge. It has been surprisingly nice to track what I have accomplished. So often it feels like 25 minutes isn’t enough. Why bother? Or conversely, that 25 minutes is so much that I can’t do it. Seeing a record of the daily plodding along, with days where I write a lot and days where I write an abysmal 4 words a minute, makes visible how the small becomes something much bigger. My favorite statistic so far is total words. 2806. Woo hoo! Do any of you track your writing? What statistics are helpful? What do you include in your tracking? How does it work for you?
Update us on how it’s going as we finish the work week. What phase are you in of the challenge? Is it still shiny and new? Are you feeling like it is too much? Share your accomplishments!