Last year I bought a giant wall calendar that I used to track my writing habits. I used a green check to indicate days when I wrote, and red checks on days that I didn’t. I bought the calendar a few months into the year, so one of the first things I did was put red checks through those months. This was not a good beginning.
I ended up writing only intermittently, usually one or two days here and there followed by weeks of nothing. Lots of red Xs, easy to see from across the room. It didn’t take long before I only updated the calendar occasionally, and usually only to add a bunch of red Xs. I did have success late in the year when I wrote a story and had it accepted for publication, but after that I struggled with all of my follow-up work, and pretty soon I stopped updating the calendar at all. It was clear that my system wasn’t working.
However, I still wanted to find some way to track my writing and inspire myself to keep doing it every day. I’ve been wracking my brain for years trying to figure out a way to apply my reading habits to other parts of my life. Finally it occurred to me that I shouldn’t track days I didn’t write because it was just demoralizing. Instead, I should only track my successful days.
Luckily I had this brainstorm at the start of the month, just in time to begin a new goal and put myself on solid footing. I took a quick trip to Target and picked up a new calendar along with some stickers I would use to track my progress. You can see the results below.
I’m proud to say that I wrote every day in January of 2013.
One of the things that was a huge help was the fact that I kept my criteria for writing very forgiving. I knew there would be days when writing would be the absolute last thing I’d want to do. Days when I’d be exhausted or put it off until the last minute. Usually both at once.
Instead of forcing myself to work on Fiction Fit For Publication, I decided that any kind of writing would count towards my goal. That meant writing in a journal, free-writing, flash fiction, prose fragments, blog posts, anything that went on for more than a hundred words or so. At first I fell back on journaling or free-writing pretty often, but once I started getting into the swing of things, I found it much easier to blog regularly.
I updated Full of Words the most, but I also wrote some pieces for GamerSushi that I’m pretty proud of. I quickly discovered that writing every day began to take away some of the specter of writing in general. Blogging was no longer quite so intimidating because I knew I could knock out a book review in under an hour if nothing else came to mind.
Today I’m kicking off February by writing this post. My goal is to continue taking things easy. Sure, I want to start producing more fiction, but right now the important thing is writing every day no matter what. I have a feeling that the more I write, the more I’ll want to write, and the easier it’ll be to tackle something more ambitious.
Until then, I have plenty of books to review.