25 January 2015

Predicting productivity, adjusting to challenges

This week I've encountered a couple of challenges in my writing life that have led to lower productivity levels than I anticipated. But really it all boils down to two skills I want to strengthen: the first being my ability to anticipate challenges and set realistic expectations, and the second being my ability to adjust to unexpected challenges.

To get more concrete about it: I'm house-and-dog sitting for some relatives this week. Although I give myself a pat on the back for anticipating decreased productivity on the day of the drive from my current residence to theirs, I failed to anticipate the amount of work a partially trained, 6-month-old, HIGHLY energetic Weimaraner would take. She's basically a toddler on crack: constantly wanting attention and playtime, virtually impossible to exhaust. I'll spare you all the details since this isn't a dog blog. The point is that I failed to anticipate it, it's going to affect my productivity this coming week, and now I'm struggling with the second thing: adjusting my expectations.

Other things I (re)learned related to my writing process this week:
  • Even in a stable environment, it's difficult to predict how much I'm going to be able to do. Work on WIP1 has been going more slowly than anticipated this month, and I've had to accept that my write-a-short-story-a-week schedule, while admirable, was overly ambitious. Maybe if my entire block of writing time for the week were dedicated to just one project I could meet the goals I'd set for myself, but sometimes my head just moves more slowly than at other times. It's not that I've been feeling sluggish, though that has definitely happened to me in the past. More that my brain is in some kind of intense mulling-things-over phase. So back to that whole adjusting-expectations thing.
  • It's easier for me to hear and incorporate developmental feedback when I'm still in the shitty first draft stage. Once I get to a draft that feels more or less done to me, I don't want to make major changes.

Coming up this week is a writing-intensive week to finish the first draft of WIP1. Scheduling these writing-intensive weeks to finish up first drafts has become something of a pattern. It allows me to really get into the groove on a project, not to mention gives me a good chunk of distraction-free writing time. There's something thrilling about knowing that all I have to do all day is sit with my story.

And try to exhaust a 6-month-old Weimaraner. And that.

On the plus side, I did plan to give myself a few extra days after I return home to finalize WIP1. Hopefully I can use that time to do whatever I didn't get done on the ms rather than use it to sleep off a puppy hangover.

ROW80 Update
"A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life."
Note: This update only includes the past week's tasks and the coming week's tasks. If you'd like to know how they relate to my goals for this round, you can read my 2015 Round 1 Goals post.

Creative projects
Past week's tasks: Lock down 1st drafts of 5 more chapters in WIP1; finish 1st draft of "One Book" & come up with a better title; discuss "Split Infinity" with Diane. "Split Infinity" discussed. A few more chapters locked down for a total of 7 chapters in good shape for beta readers. Made solid progress on "One Book," both in terms of planning/background and in terms of getting some of the story down, but no finished first draft or new title yet.

Coming week's tasks: My only task this week is to finish the first draft of WIP1.

Past week's tasks:
At least 1 more post on this blog; 1 post on travel blog. Posted twice more on this blog - an announcement about her local newspaper featuring E. S. Gibson and a guest post by Ebony Williams about writing success. Did not get to the travel blog post. I might have to face that I don't have the energy for it right now, even if I do have content ideas.

Coming week's tasks: If another guest post comes in, I'll post it on Friday. Otherwise I'm excusing myself from blogging this week.

Reading for fun
Past week's tasks:
look for Stargirl or The Martian Chronicles at the library. Checked out not only these two books but also the sequel to Stargirl, titled Love, Stargirl. Have started reading The Martian Chronicles. Is it sacrilegious to say that I would have edited that book differently? At any rate, I've enjoyed most of the vignettes I've read so far.

Coming week's tasks: I figure reading's still good for me while I write. I brought all three books with me to my house/dog sitting gig, so I'll read a bit before going to sleep each night.

Community participation
Past week's task: 
Writing sprints during my regular writing time (10am-1pm Pacific, Monday through Friday) with my Twitter buddy Jo Custer (@Sonuvab); at least 1 writing sprint with #writeclub on Friday; comment on 2-3 ROWer posts. Did sprints with Jo Mon-Wed. Thursday & Friday were a bit of a wash due to changing towns, so no writing sprints or #writeclub. Commented on 4 ROW80 posts.

Coming week's tasks: Jo & I plan to sprint again this coming week, which will help me stay on track with WIP1. I *might* participate in #writeclub on Friday if I think of it and/or run other sprints of my own throughout the week if I need the motivation.

Social media
Past week's tasks:
30 mins on Twitter, 3 times; 2 FB posts on the LLC page unrelated to promoting blog posts; take a couple stabs at promoting #AskAnEditor. I got on Twitter & interacted about things other than my blog posts, though I can't really say when or for how much time. Definitely posted at least twice on FB. Decided it's too early to start promoting #AskAnEditor so will come back to this at the beginning of February.

Coming week's tasks: With the exception of writing sprints on Twitter, I'm excused from social media this coming week.

Past week's tasks:
Emails out to 5 more clients/friends of the LLC; blog post focused on coaching. Did a small editing job this week for a returning client. Did not write a blog post focused on coaching. Got emails out to two more friends of the LLC and spent quite a lot of time emailing with people who responded to previous weeks' emails. All in all, a success!

Coming week's tasks: I'm excused from work related to editing & coaching this coming week.

What have you learned about your writing process this week? Is it fairly easy for you to predict how much you'll accomplish in a set amount of time?

This is a blog hop! Click here to read other ROW80ers Sunday updates.


  1. "A toddler on crack!" Oh that made me laugh! I can totally picture it. :) Having two kids I can see how your productivity could have been limited or non-existent in this situation. I've learned to try to be productive when they're not around (at school or sleeping), otherwise it's pointless. I guess that we're always learning and adjusting, but taking the time to consider how we do things really helps. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for the empathy, Isobel. I in turn have a whole new level of empathy for writers with young children. Just being in the same room as this dog is exhausting...unless she's asleep. Hope your writing goes well this week!

  2. My goals are always in flux. Most days I try to complete tasks in their order of importance - more or less.

    It sounds like you've got a good handle on what to pursue and what to set aside as needed. Kudos! And all the best with your writing week and your house-/dogsitting. TTFN

    1. Thanks, Steph! Yes, I think the best we can do is prioritize and learn to let go of what we don't have the time/energy for. Hope you have a successful writing week!

  3. Most days/weeks I am sure that I can make a dent, but some weeks everything feels difficult. This week feels like one of those weeks. Struggling today to get at least one small goal done, with that and the sudden snow storm I am not making a lot of progress.

    i really need to re-read The Martian Chronicles. I was left feeling blah after reading it. Need to see if it still hold up, or if I just wasn't really reading it closely. Maybe this summer I will try reading it again, focus more on the story. Still working on my Neil collection. February is going to be Stardust, Coraline, Anansi Boys, and Good Omens :-)