Friday, March 8, 2013

Full Steam Ahea...But WAIT!

Here's the secret to productivity. Have help. Just be aware that some help is less ergonomically correct than others.
Honestly? I may not be the best person to talk about amazing productivity. I'm a slow writer. I'm working on that - but man. It's a tough one. Add into it that I am The Queen of Second Guessing (This is NOT a self-awarded title. Entirely.) and you find my word counts over time kind of suck.
Still. Here's what I'm doing to change it.
1. Get the hell out of Dodge.
    I leave home. If I don't, the dirty dishes, the crunching floors, this chore, that chore - just one more thing THEN I can concentrate - oh look. Time for bed. Yeah. Must leave. Distractions R I. Admit this, cope with it. I handle it by taking care of two things at once - exercise and removing myself from the home front. Specifically - I bike a couple of miles to a tea shop. They bring me treats and let me work without any guilt about all of chores being left undone a few miles behind me. (Cat guilt? That's ever present.) A $4 pot of tea is the cheapest office rent ever.
2. Plan ahead
    Just like I wouldn't go out sailing in water I don't know without studying the charts for the area, I don't want to wander into my WIP without some notion of where the reefs and shoals are. So each morning, I spend five minutes (about the time it takes the tea shop to bring me my pot of tea) jotting notes about what needs to be accomplished that day. If there are specific questions that need addressing, I put them down. If I had thoughts or ideas from the day before, I've put them in my notebook as well and can incorporate those if I want. I also declare my intention in writing: GOAL: 2k on xyz scene. (The draw back to that has been that every single scene I have in my current WIP is exactly 2k...clearly this part of the system needs some refining.)
3. Zone out
    Headphones and an MP3 player. Most of my books have a playlist. Different books require different playlists. What worked for one book does not work for the next. I have very specific musical preferences that Pandora and other services cannot seem to fathom. So cueing up tunes that match my oddly wired brain is on me. Writers are sponges, right? Hear emotion in a couple of voices at the table next to you and your attention is sucked right in - not that you mean to eavesdrop - it's just that how these people sound in conflict, their posture, their expressions - it's all such great character study! It's also nil wordcount. Thus, pipe the sounds of your choice directly into your brain so you're harder to derail when other people's soap operas play out beside you.
4. Be accountable
    Keep track of your word counts. Set your goals so that you can achieve them - not just one day, but every day. Success builds success. You wire your brain to shoot for that success, to become addicted to getting it. But that only works if you keep track of it so you can see it accummulating. My CPs put a spreadsheet up wherein we each record our daily wordcounts. We have weekly check in meetings where we can brainstorm, problem solve or otherwise assist one another in meeting our goals. This is also useful from a public humiliation standpoint, if that sort of thing motivates you.
5. Get back on the horse
    When things go sideways, and they will cause life is like that, make sure you remember that productivity serves you, not the other way around. It's okay to let it go. Just don't fail to get back at it as soon as you can without winding up in a hospital, prison, or mental institution. They won't bring you treats. Not ones you'd want, anyway.
What have I missed? Also, any suggestions for giving up my Queen of Second Guessing title - totally welcome. How do you get past the notion that you're doing it all wrong?


  1. "Just be aware that some help is less ergonomically correct than others."

    LOL! But if they're sharing their purrs, they're trying to heal you. That's maybe some sort of ... yeah, no, I gotz nuttin.