by Megan Haskell
There’s an old business adage, “You have to measure to manage.” I don’t know who said it or when, exactly, but it’s a truism that can’t be denied.
If you don’t know where you are, how are you supposed to know how to get where you’re going? If you don’t know how fast you write, how do you know when you’ll be done? And if you’re trying to produce more books faster, how will you manage your production schedule?
Scared to Change
Sometimes we don’t actually want to know where we are, because we’re afraid we won’t be able to meet our goals. Worse, what if it turns out we’re slower than every other writer on the planet? (I guarantee that’s not true).
Or, maybe we’re scared of changing. We’re comfortable where we are, with how fast (or slow) things are going. It can be easier to put on the blinders and keep plodding along than challenge ourselves to make improvements. Change is hard. Change is scary.
I get it. I love a schedule and solid routine. (Ask me about my latest planner, and you’ll see what I mean.) But without change, we stagnate. Without challenges, our writing grows stale.
Ignorance is NOT Bliss
If you want to be a professional writer, you must put in your 10,000 hours of intentional practice and then some. That means you must strive to improve, both in craft and in execution. Process improvement (another fun business term) means you can write better faster. Keep doing the same thing over and over again, and you’ll never see the success you’ve been dreaming about.
Most writers have one or both of the following challenges that affect their productivity:
- Finding the time to write
- Optimizing the time they have
Greta and I are going to tackle both of these issues in the Take Charge of Your Writing workshop this coming Saturday, but I thought I’d share a few of our best bits and bobs for everyone to mull over.
Set a Schedule
One of the things many early writers fail to do is set a dedicated writing schedule. They are either a) waiting for the muse to anoint them with inspiration, or b) setting their writing at such a low priority that nearly everything else in their life gets in the way. Unfortunately, both of these are counterproductive to your writing career.
Instead, try setting aside dedicated time to write. It doesn’t have to be every day (although that’s great if you can) and it doesn’t even have to be big blocks of time (although those are fantastic if you can manage it). If you can schedule writing time into your calendar you’ll find yourself getting more done faster. This is especially true if you can schedule it at the same time every day or every week.
Because your brain likes routine. It likes building habits. So if you can create a habit of writing, you’ll find your muse more willing to visit you. Funny, it’ll happen when you’re sitting down ready to write too.
Measure to Manage
Yep, we’re back to that now.
Once you have your time scheduled and have built a habit of writing, you’re ready to optimize the time you have. To do that, you have to measure what you’re doing and set goals for improvement.
There are a number of ways you can do this:
- Simply write your daily word count (or chapters edited, or whatever measure you like to count) onto your calendar to see where you are currently. Next week do a little bit more.
- Find an accountability partner to report to each week. Share your progress and ask them to challenge your status quo.
- Use a spreadsheet to record each writing session or sprint. Information you might want to measure may include the time of day you wrote, the words produced in the session, the resulting words per hour, and qualitative data that may have influenced your session (e.g. music, mood, interruptions, etc.)
I bet #3 sounds pretty daunting. Lucky for you, you have a spreadsheet maven in your midst, and I’m going to give you my template for free.
I think it’s pretty self-explanatory once you open it up, but feel free to ask any questions in the comments.
Vanquish Your Fear
Fear can hold us back from being our best selves. We tell ourselves all sorts of lies about why we can’t do something, instead of challenging ourselves to go for it anyway. But given the right tools, we can blast through those mental roadblocks and level up to become the writers we want to be.
Would you like individualized attention to improve your writing process and learn how to write better faster? Join me and Greta this Saturday, October 27th from 8am to Noon for the Take Charge of Your Writing workshop. There are only a few tickets left!
Legend has it, I was born with a book in my hands. Thirty-ish years later, I’m a stay-at-home-mom who prefers a good story over doing the dishes. Only now, I’m building my own fantasy worlds! I’m the Award-Winning author of the Amazon bestselling series, The Sanyare Chronicles, and Program Director of O.C. Writers. You can find me on my website at www.meganhaskell.com, Facebook, and Twitter.