For this first week of my Writer Unplugged series, I developed a tracking system so I could log how much time I spent on various projects and also make notes about challenges, observations, and more.
I found this time tracker to be both useful and annoying—useful because it’s providing me with a baseline for how long different tasks take me and is also making me more aware of my procrastination tendencies, which for this week looked like spending way too much time on Facebook; and annoying because, well, it was one more thing to do and keep track of, and at times it seemed tedious.
For the time being though, I’m going to continue tracking my time this way, as I think it’s the best way to show how and where I fit in different activities. Also, I’m not tracking time spent working with clients here—I wanted to focus only on my actual writing projects.
Here’s what it looked like for this week (CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENLARGE IT):
In keeping the log, this week two things jumped out at me as being things I frequently struggle with when I’m writing. I wanted to share in case you can relate:
Roadblock 1: Dwelling on the HOW instead of imagining the WHAT
Because I’m someone who likes to plan and organize projects, I find it challenging to relish in the dreaming and scheming space of WHAT a writing project could be. Instead, I feel like I keep getting pulled towards finding answers relating to how something will ultimately be executed. This tendency is coming up specifically in relation to my work-in-progress (WIP). I’m finding it difficult to start writing in earnest because I want a clear blueprint for the book—I want to know how all the pieces fit in, how it should be organized, how I will pull it off. When really, the project would be better served if I stayed in the present and explored WHAT a little more—what is my intention for the project, what are my goals, what are my highest hopes for it?
Remedy: I’ve decided to take a big step back and marinate on these WHAT questions in the coming week. I am going to go through the exercises I developed for my The Book in You class and play with them, all with a goal of getting clarity around my WHAT and WHY. I’m also going to take my own advice that I share with writers all the time, and that is to focus on being CURIOUS about this project. I’ll do this by posting this little reminder on my office wall:
I’m curious to discover what this book wants to be.
Roadblock 2: Getting stuck in WHEN THIS, THEN THAT thinking
“When this, then that” thinking is a form of procrastination, based on the idea that certain things need to be completed before something else can get started. While sometimes it can be unwise to start new projects when surrounded by a bunch of half-finished To Dos, this kind of thinking, at least for me, can be taken to the extreme with negative results. Because the reality is, my “this” list is pretty much endless. And therefore my “that” (my work-in-progress) will never be tackled unless I stop this thinking.
Remedy: I know that the only way I’m going to make headway on my work-in-progress is to let go of the idea that I have to finish everything else first. Instead, I’ve got to designate time for my WIP and stick to it. This will be my strategy for the coming week. I’ll let you know how it goes.
A few other observations from the past week:
Many of my business / book launch-related tasks took much longer than I anticipated. Unless I start being more efficient with my time, I will struggle to find significant chunks of time I can devote to my WIP.
Social media was a major time suck for me last week. I’d like to create some “rules” around my social media usage to try so I don’t lose so much valuable time.
My Writing Goals for Next Week:
- Play with developing some ground rules for my social media usage
- Devote a minimum of 4 hours on my WIP over the course of the week
- Go through exercises from first two classes of The Book in You for my WIP
- Complete 2 more book-related freebies for my author site / book launch
- Write a blog post for teen girl advocates for my author site
In next week’s post, I’ll share more about what my WIP is about (hopefully with some new insights). If you aren’t already on my email list, I encourage you to sign up below so you don’t miss any of the series!