The Sweetie Chronicles

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Productivity Booster

No matter how hard you work, there is always more that needs to get done. So much so that it can get overwhelming pretty fast. When I feel overwhelmed or I feel like there's so much to do that I will never be able to finish it or reach my goals, my first reaction is to freeze. I'm not saying it's logical, but it happens. Doing nothing at all is the worst thing I could do, and yet that's my typical reaction. Unless something forces me into action like a payment due or a meeting that I just can't miss, I have a hard time getting out of that paralysis and working hard toward my goals.

As a writer who sets my own schedule, this is a serious problem. I have set a very ambitious goal for myself during the month of September, and frankly, there's just no time for this bullshit. I want to write an entire 50,000 word novel that I can self-publish in ebook form. My goal is to finish it by the end of September, revise it over the first few weeks of October, and publish it before NaNoWriMo begins on November 1st.

For some reason, just knowing it was a huge, difficult goal, made me freeze up, unable to work as hard as I truly wanted to. In a way, I needed to trick myself into working harder. That's where my awesome husband comes in. He came up with this idea of making it into a kind of game. He's playing an MMO shooter called Global Agenda, which has little raids every hour or so that last between 15 and 30 minutes each. So, we decided that each time he went into a raid, I would work on my novel. We decided on a formula to compare his dps to my word count and now we race to see who can be the most productive in that time frame. Typically, this ends up meaning that I need to produce around 500 words in 15 minutes, which works out great for me.

Then, after the burst is over, I get an hour to watch TV or talk to friends on twitter or read a book or whatever. But when the raid starts again, it's go time. When we tried this method on Sunday, even though I was woefully hung over from the bachelor/bachelorette party the night before, I wrote 3700 words! Not too shabby!

We started talking about how I could extend that productivity into the daytime when G is at work. Last night at the Dollar Tree, G pointed out a digital kitchen timer. "Set this for 15 minutes," he said. "Then you can work at home when I'm not there." Aha! Great idea! We tried it last night even though he was here, and I still got six hundred words written before the timer went off. There's just something about knowing that I only have to focus on what I'm writing for a short 15 minutes that gets me quickly into this zone. There's no time to judge myself or my ideas. There's only time for writing. I think for rough draft writing, it's the best way I've ever found to add more productivity to my day in terms of writing. Now, I just need to set the timer for ten minute increments and get this damn house clean.


Mandy September 14, 2010 at 11:34 AM  

This is a great process!! I do the same thing, I just psyche myself out with some things, like I look at a project and think there's no frigging way I could get all that done, but later, I look back at projects and think oh that wasn't so bad!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Sidni M. October 31, 2010 at 5:20 PM  

Excellent mind trick. Plus, with a kiddo at home, it's easy to tell her that it's "her turn" as soon as she hears the timer go off.

Sarra Cannon

Young Adult Indie Author

I always secretly wanted to be a cheerleader. And a witch. Now, I write about both. The first five novels in my Peachville High Demons Young Adult Paranormal series are available now in ebook!

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Beautiful DemonsThe Time Traveler's WifeLoveroot: PoemsFear of FlyingWe the LivingAnthem

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