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ATP
09-16-2007, 10:22 AM
[ I checked the archives - time management, performance, productivity, organisation - and only one or two posts touched on the issue].

I think we all would agree that writing productivity is dependent on the number of priorities which fill our daily lives: regular day job vs. writing full-time, kids at home or school etc.

However, as a full-time NF writer, I have found that in relation to productivity, a general pattern can be discerned. In some ways, this helps lighten the burden and accompanying stress.

Many claims are made to maintain a regular work schedule, and word production rate/day. For novelists, the latter part holds true;less so for
f-t NF writers.

The technique which I find that works best is to list everything you wish to achieve for the year. Then, break this down further into 4 quarters of three months each, and slot your wishes/objectives into one of these quarters. You can revise them as necessary.

This is used in conjunction with your diary. In the diary, you list your daily tasks, and perhaps as far as into the following week. I list by daily approximates - morning and afternoon. After completion of the task,
I place a tick against it; where it hasn't been completed, I place an "X" beside the entry.

In order to try and avoid creating too much stress within yourself, you list only about 3-4 tasks per day.Some days you'll do more, and other days, something will always come along and take a lot more time than you had initially planned, and so disrupt the day's plans. In this case, you try and carry forward the tasks not completed that day into the next. Some days this will work, and others not. Depending on the priority, or circumstance, a task might be completed 2,3,4 weeks later.That's fine.

The daily tasks are done in reference to the quarterly plan. If some daily task has arisen that was not originally part of the quarterly plan, I place it in the sequence for the quarter.

In review of the quarterly plan, you can see how things have proceeded. And how you are progressing.

This still doesn't stop the pressure created by (these) other non-writing related issues / deadlines. But, it does give you an overview and guidance on "where you are and where you're going".


What are some of the devices / methods used by others in dealing with the 'productivity' issue?

Thanks.

Linda Adams
09-17-2007, 02:41 PM
This intrigued me because I'm looking for ways to improve on spending more time writing (in my case, novels). Though that's in addition to working full time.

One of the most basic ones I've seen is to set a small goal for yourself, like writing three pages a day or maybe a specific word count. This site I ran across has some templates to track things like word count (http://margaretfisk.mmfcf.com/writing/writing_tools.html).

Leigh Walker
09-17-2007, 03:08 PM
For fiction, I do best with word count per day goals. One of my problems with the task check list and objectives and day planners, is that I get so caught up with my to do list that I spend hours writing them, revising them, looking at them, contemplating them. It is stresful for me. But I am not focused on writing non-fiction. when I was doing research and writing journal articles, I dont think I could have functioned without a task organizer!

However, I have been lucky for the past year, I haven't had to work and have been able to spend 8 hours a day writing. very soon, I will have to face realities and get a day job, and I have been worried that I wont be able to be as focused on writing and may need to find a way to keep myself productive.

thanks for the thread!

J.Ziekemijjer
09-17-2007, 04:36 PM
As a university student, I have four essays or major assignments due every month or so. I work twenty hours per week, and have fifteen hours of lectures and tutorials to attend. I read and write fiction with the little time and mental energy I have left over. I don’t think I can set word goals because it’s just unrealistic at this stage.

Jamesaritchie
09-17-2007, 05:28 PM
I used to freelance a lot, and I found organization was much more important with NF than with fiction, and writign down goals was an important part of teh procedure, but only if you don't allow those goals to limit what you do and when you do it.

Goals/accomplishments should be guidelines, not iron bound boundaries.

Assuming you want to earn a real living as a freelance/NF writer. carrying goals strikes me as very bad idea. When something is supposed to be done today, it should be done today. Better to set a more realistic number of tasks than to set too many and roll them over.

Lightening burden and stress is sometimes impossible, if you have to write for a living, and it's a matter of being realistic, if you don't have to earn your living from writing.

But for most, not getting a task done today causes even more stress down the road.

Planning ahead is good, but planning too far ahead, and setting goals you may or may not be able to even come close to, is bad.

ATP
09-18-2007, 06:04 AM
I used to freelance a lot, and I found organization was much more important with NF than with fiction,

I don't write fiction, but this is what I always felt to be one of the major differences



and writign down goals was an important part of teh procedure, but only if you don't allow those goals to limit what you do and when you do it.Goals/accomplishments should be guidelines, not iron bound boundaries.


As I think was indicated in my post. No argument from this quarter.



Assuming you want to earn a real living as a freelance/NF writer,

Are you addressing me, or the newbies/newer writers?



carrying goals strikes me as very bad idea.

Could you please clarify this with respect to your statement in point 2 above?



When something is supposed to be done today, it should be done today. Better to set a more realistic number of tasks than to set too many and roll them over.

I thought that 3-4 tasks per day was realistic, as my experience tends to support your own assertion in this regard.It also allows for adding more if the day's activities provide for this.



Lightening burden and stress is sometimes impossible, if you have to write for a living, and it's a matter of being realistic, if you don't have to earn your living from writing.

Sorry, I don't understand this.



But for most, not getting a task done today causes even more stress down the road.

Yes.



Planning ahead is good, but planning too far ahead, and setting goals you may or may not be able to even come close to, is bad.

I take it that what you are suggesting is not to plan too far ahead with goals/objectives you may not be able to even come close to. One must firstly evaluate whether one's objectives are realistic -- I have assumed that those NF writers at mid-career or later have determined what is and is not realistic for them.

Is it your view that as a FT NF writer, one ought to be writing 'like a bastard'-- and that this is the only way to make a living as a FT NF writer -- so one does not have the 'luxury' of year-long planning, or indeed of any planning beyond the immediate article?

Thanks.

PeeDee
09-18-2007, 06:16 AM
I dunno. I come at is as a fiction writer -- and address the matter as such. The level of organization you talk about is fine and dandy, really, for non-fiction. I think it would just make me grouchy for fiction.

What I tend to have is a list of novels and short stories. SOmetimes, I write my list down. Mostly, it exists in my head. Some of the novels are more fleshed out than others. Some of the short stories are finished and just waiting for me to write them down.

When I finish a project (even if I have other projects going, which is usually the case), then I look at everything and I Look for what I'm not excited to work on next.

That's not enough, though. Excitement can get you through some things. What I really look for is the story where I know my Voice at the beginning, and I know how to start it properly. From there, I let it roll.

Fiction works better as an I wanna rather than an I hafta, even when we're only kidding ourselves and even when the deadlines show exactly which camp it falls into.