Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Guest Author Jane Smith on How Great Advice Can Ruin a Writer’s Day – Part 2

In my previous post, found here, about writing “X amount of words per day” I noted how a project timeline can alleviate the pressure to always create so many words a day. I’m a writer who is up and down, a lot of words one day, all research and notes the next. When I didn't hit my mark of a 1,000 words a day, disappointment set in. This great advice about daily output just didn't suit my creative process, and would get me down even though I was working hard. I needed an alternative. 

That was when I teamed up with a non-writer and discovered the wonders of a timeline and tracking my work. 

By keeping close track of what I achieved each day (no matter what it was and without judging), I discovered that after eight weeks on a new project, I had a 24,000 word document of polished material. That was 3,000 words a week or 600 a day. This was a relief because even if certain days were all stream of consciousness writing or research or notes, I knew on average I was making good progress with 600 words of polished material daily.

Here is the update: 14 weeks into the project I have 130 pages of polished material. This equals 2465 words a week or 493 words a day.

My pace is slowing!

But with a timeline and by assigning buckets of time to certain types of tasks (writing new material, editing, reading, research), I was able to look at my timeline and discover why my pace was slowing. [Note: It wasn't getting worse! Just slowing. Positive attitudes please.] Anyway, slowing down was usually reason for panic. But this time, panic was furthest from my mind and here is why. 

This novel is going to be about 180 pages. As I near the end, I spend more time eliminating previous material and more time refining the plot and scenes with editing. It's clear as day on my project timeline. Therefore, my word count pace decreases. "Of course!" you say. So simple. 

Not simple! Without my timeline, I would only recognize each day. If the day wasn't good, I would get down. Call me emotional. Call me a temperamental freak. You would be right. It's why I write. And I can only say my project timeline has brought me peace of mind. 

Any data is good data. Besides peace of mind, I now know I should plan on approximately 450-500 words a day (on average!) for my next project. Also, with my timeline, I'm able to see what type of writing I tend to focus on during certain times of the day and during the overarching project.

I see other articles and writers at a 1,000 words a day; however, I would like to ask them, "Is that polished material?" And even if it was polished, it wouldn't bother me. Why? Because by keeping a timeline, I have discovered how I work. Not how others work. And this leads to my advice for you: discover how you work. 

Take control. Play with your process. Be curious. And good luck!  

Come visit me at www.janesmithdivorced.com where I'm a paper art making, erotica writing, wine swilling lover of Martin.

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