Monday, August 3, 2015

Capturing My Writing Days, But Not With To Do Lists

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

While I have a week to write my blog posts, I start them on Thursdays usually for my Monday-at-midnight deadlines. At 500 words mostly, I could write them all on Sundays, but I wouldn’t have time to rewrite and polish them and that’s the real work I not only enjoy, but is necessary to write my best.

I have two other weekly and two monthly regular deadlines. My freelance work and writing classes have variable deadlines. I keep track of them all on a calendar.

I follow through using To Do Lists. These lists are helpful, necessary even, to meet deadlines, but they are only guidelines for my writing days scribbled down on Post-its and stuck to my computer screen.

When I decided I wanted to capture my writing days—not just the deadlines and what I hoped to write—I bought an academic planner that begins in July and ends in June. Inside, each month begins with a calendar of the whole month on two facing pages where I can highlight all my deadlines. On the following pages, each day of the month is given a quarter of a page space which is lined making it perfect to record notes.

          These are the pages I need, but not for To Do Lists. Instead of writing what I’m supposed to do each day in this space, I record what I accomplished.

Professionally, I write assignments with set topics, but which ones on which days? Did I start with one project and switch to another? Did ideas for new projects come to mind? How many words did I write? What projects did I rewrite and polish? Did I complete any assignments that day? What did I edit?

For my personal writing: What topics did I cover in my fill-a-notebook-a-month notebook? Was I inspired by my Muse? Did I go off on any tangents?  Did I complete my Personal Writing Class assignments? Write an essay? Even a fragment of a sentence I loved?

Since writers don’t have time cards, I can also record the time of day and the amount of time I spent on each assignment. For example, I woke up at 1:24AM on Thursday, July 23. While waiting to go back to sleep, sentences and thoughts rushed into my mind about my Masterclass post on Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li (published on July 27). I grabbed my bedside notebook and pen with a built-in light at the tip, noted the time, then dashed down over 165 words in eight minutes.

Later on I may not remember I wrote early in the morning. By recording this and other facts about all the writing I do, I discover what inspires me as well as my writing patterns. It’s also consolidated proof I put in the time to do my job well.

This planner captures my work in progress, i.e., my writing days. It also motivates me as I don’t want any days with blank pages. I am a writer after all.


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