December 14, 2011

The Pace of Progress

My challenge to myself last month resulted in serious progress on my novel. I set my goal high because I wanted the motivation to work more hours than usual, and I was successful in that regard. As far as I can tell, revising for longer hours didn't result in any loss of quality, and that's good news for both the work I produced in November and for my future writing.

The unstated goal of last month's experiment was to help me figure out some new methods for working more productively. Should I give myself a revision hour goal every month, or set up some other kind of metric to reach? How many hours of writing are in my optimal working day? Since last week, I've been trying out a couple of ideas, and the results are good so far. I'm going to wait until I've had more time with them before going into detail here.

When I reviewed the stats on my November progress, I also consulted the record of my time and output in the preceding months. I was happy to discover I'd been keeping these records since the start of this round of revision. I was even more happy when I realized that my overall progress hasn't been as glacial as it feels.

At the beginning of this revision, I had some thoughts about how long it might take to complete. Reviewing the stats, I saw that my actual progress hasn't been so far off from my guess -- if you take out all the long and short breaks from writing. Some of these breaks were anticipated and valid, such as vacations. Others were the unanticipated but unavoidable interruptions of real life, some of which legitimately prevented me from writing and many of which were convenient excuses. And I'm sure there were a lot of days when there was no good reason that I only wrote for an hour.

So, on the one hand, it's nice to know that I am revising this novel at a pace that feels reasonable to me (however arbitrary that acceptable rate is), and that I can use that pace to estimate when I'll be finished. On the other hand, wow, I've wasted a lot of time, and that's disheartening. I'm hoping that my latest "This Is How I'll Be Super-Productive!" scheme means I'll waste less time in the future so that I might have a chance of meeting my estimate this time.

But, you know, now it's the middle of December, and nobody can get anything done in December.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Christopher Gronlund crafts exquisite Italian fig cookies and ponders the connection to writing: "I love taking the time to get each cut just right, just as I love taking my time with writing. Why would I rush a first draft when it -- and future drafts -- can be stronger if I step back and think about things more, instead of racing to the end?"

→ Kim Wright at The Millions tries to figure out what constitutes genre: "My conclusion: if genre was once a signal to the reader that certain things would happen in a certain way and at a certain pace and to a certain kind of character, that definition is dead. As dead as a Scottish warrior turned zombie searching the criminal underbelly of modern day New York for the only woman he's ever loved."


Anna Scott Graham said...

December is a funny month; I always experience this ending sensation, and don't necessarily rush to get things done as the window closes. But the work remains; I am editing one chapter each morning, regardless of what commences for the rest of the day. How exciting you're making such progress! Looking forward to hearing those new ideas!

Lisa Eckstein said...

Anna, good luck finishing the work you have planned for the rest of the month and then enjoying the time with your family!

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