In the nearly five years I’ve spent writing seriously, I’ve managed to produce two complete novels, a series of novelettes, some short stories that won honourable mention in contests, and several other drafts ranging from wretched, squirming NaNoWriMo-level early drafts to decently enjoyable reads awaiting various levels of polishing. That’s compared to what I produced in about 15 years of writing before that: a pair of complete (I thought, actually only 3rd draft) novels, a scattering of other first drafts and a ton of fanfiction.
I write about this because one thing I’ve found integral in the last five years is tracking. It’s been so important for me to measure my productivity so I can figure out what I’m doing well and not, so I can make improvements.
At first, I started tracking butt-in-chair hours. That was, and still is, an excellent exercise for me. Some days can’t control my productivity level for a variety of reasons (my son is an excellent example!) but I can control how long I sit in the chair writing. It was only after I started tracking my time spent writing that I learned to build the habit of writing regularly, for example. It probably won’t come as a surprise, but I’ve spent more time writing in the last five years than I did in the twelve years prior. I learned, for example, that it takes me about 600-700 hours of writing to produce a novel (I don’t count time spent braining through a novel, of course, which is probably much more).
More recently, I started tracking productivity on a daily basis, be it pages edited or words written. This is where KRH comes in. It may shock you to learn that with a 10-week old in the house and me working full time, the total number of hours available to write have, for the moment dropped dramatically. So too has my ability to concentrate on what I’m doing, mostly because I’m now needed more often than I used to be around the house. It used to be I could do the week’s cooking, prep and cleaning a few times a week, and devote much of my other time to writing. Good luck with trying to change diapers, dress KRH or walk him down for sleep (or drive him around until he falls asleep, as has been necessary sometimes).
I’ve been using Jamie Raintree’s Writing and Revision Tracker over the last year. It was a useful tool in tracking both words written and pages edited, especially when I completed significant edits to the two novels I thought were complete when I started this year (some requested, some merely me realising the novel wasn’t as done as I thought). Simply keeping track of these things makes me more productive.
Now, because of KRH, measuring my productivity is going to be more important than ever. Going forward, I’m going to be measuring progress on my current project, and displaying it with this handy little bar below. You can expect it to advance to 100% and jump back down to 0% several times, because I’ll use it to track my progress for each draft rather than the entire project. I’m not yet certain how many drafts this novel will take. My current draft is a quick read-through to fix timeline errors, names and other things that changed in the course of the draft, and add new scenes. It should be pretty quick and I still hope to finish it this year, probably mostly around Christmas. I’ll make weekly updates as I go and report on anything I’ve learned as I do.