Posts tagged with "productivity" - Faerye Net 2009-11-22T01:21:57+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Wordcount wisdom 2009-11-22T01:21:57+00:00 2009-11-22T01:25:42+00:00 <p>I always feel a bit self-conscious posting about my writing process. Not only do I believe fiction is a bit like law and sausage, but I&#8217;m also keenly aware the internet teems with unpublished novelists. I may be a special snowflake, but it&#8217;s positively blizzing in the intertubes. However, I&#8217;ve been encouraged to post about process, so here it goes again.</p> <p>Some time ago, I made a <a href="" target="links">daily wordcount goal</a>. I stuck with it for three months before I missed a day. The day I missed was the day before my move, and then the day of my move, and the second day on the road, and, well, once you break a habit, it&#8217;s hard to glue it back together. My daily wordcount has been more of an unpredictable hare than a methodical tortoise of late. Over the summer, I started it up once more, and declared that, should I miss a day, I&#8217;d have to make it up <em>plus penalty words</em> the next day. That worked fine for a while, occasional deficits being repaid in massive fits of productivity. I filled a lot more <a href="" target="links">pages</a> in my journals. But eventually a hundred words lost here and there added up, especially with the steep interest applied by &#8220;penalty words.&#8221; The system was joyless and disheartening, and made me feel like a debtor to myself, rather than a creator. So I forgave my debt and scratched the system.</p> <p>This tale I told, in brief, to some fellow writers at World Fantasy. (Specifically, over lunch at the delicious and reasonably priced Tandoori Oven in downtown San Jose.) &#8220;So I need to find a way to keep myself on the wordcount system without sucking the joy out of everything,&#8221; I said.</p> <p>&#8220;What you need is positive reinforcement,&#8221; said <a href="" target="links">Vylar Kaftan</a>. This was one of the many times people have told me things that should have been perfectly obvious, but they break across my thick skull like glorious sunbeams, and I am filled with gratitude. I <em>know</em> I respond better to positive reinforcement than to negative reinforcement. I&#8217;m the kid that would stop putting her oboe together to practice when her mom yelled up the stairs &#8220;Why haven&#8217;t you played your oboe today?&#8221; but practiced &#8217;til her lips lost sensation when her teacher said she was improving markedly. This is how I work. I should know this.</p> <p>The brilliant Vylar suggested rewarding myself with $20 fun money for a week of accomplished daily wordcounts, but my new problem was that I can&#8217;t really make the reward monetary. And apart from money and things that require money, I couldn&#8217;t think of a reward. Making cookies for myself would be a reward (for me and for <a href="" target="links">Ryan</a>) but it would also mean I had to, you know, make a whole batch of cookies. Not so rewardly: another task to do.</p> <p>And then my second wordcount angel flapped in. <a href="">Ruth</a>, Ryan&#8217;s mom, is a psych nurse. I told her I was thinking of just making myself Reward Coupons for successful weeks, and figuring out what they stood for later. &#8220;Honestly, that should work well,&#8221; she said. &#8220;You&#8217;d be surprised by the motivating power of gold star stickers.&#8221; I realized she&#8217;s right. Marking success is its own reward. After all, I <em>want</em> to write. I want to see the pages fill up and the stories finish. Why wouldn&#8217;t I feel richer when I see what I&#8217;ve accomplished?</p> <p>I haven&#8217;t gone out to buy my packet of star stickers yet, but I have started counting again, as of the day Ruth and I talked, the 15th. And today marks the first completed week, each day over my wordcount goal, even when I spent hours revising (which has a tendency to generate something like -30 words per hour). I have more than a hypothetical gold star to show for it: I have a story more than halfway done. Many thanks to the wise women that turned my snoozing hare back into a tortoise.</p> Useless crowing 2008-09-17T11:39:15+00:00 2008-09-17T11:40:16+00:00 <p>You cannot say you were not warned. Last night, in the process of executing my day&#8217;s <a href="" target="links">4 pages of novel</a>, I finished my <a href="" target="links">current writing notebook</a> and started a new one. (not Clairefontaine this time &#8212; I&#8217;m trying to use up the other blank books I have sitting around. If anyone actually cares why Clairefontaine is my paper product of choice, even compared with {new notebook} the wildly popular Moleskine, I would be more than happy to blog about that.)</p> <p>The reason this transition is <em>almost</em> interesting enough to warrant your attention is that I started this new notebook August 14th. One month and two days to get through 192 pages, and they aren&#8217;t exactly mingy tiny pages either. I am massively proud of this productivity, and on top of it, September 16 marked one month without break of the 500 words a day project. I actually kept a resolution for a whole month! About something other than flossing!</p> <p>Now I guess I&#8217;d better go recalibrate and figure out how many pages in a Moleskine is 500 typed&#8230;.</p>