Sunday, November 25, 2007

My always-viewable writing planner

Twenty days ago, Krista requested that I provide pictures to illustrate my entry called "How to write a lot." I promised to do so, but since it's taken so long and the entry has now entered the archives, I'm putting the picture here, in its own post.


Writing planner

Writing down project goals, according to Paul Silvia, should be the second step of the planning process. (The first step, he says, should be realizing that "goal setting is part of the process of writing"--seems like maybe we've left that out in academic writing instruction, having set the goals for the students.) I like what he says about the project goal-setting process:

What do you want to write? When reformed binge writers first set writing goals, one`project always leaps out--usually the dreaded project they had been avoiding for the past 3 months. Certainly write that goal down, but don't stop there. What else would you like to write during the next few months? Is there a grant proposal deadline on the horizon? Does your file cabinet have any unpublished experiments that deserve a good peer-reviewed home? Is there a review article you always meant to write? Put down this book, get some paper, and make a sprawling, discursive list of your project goals.

After you settle on a list of project goals--and it might be a long list--you need to write these goals down. It's a waste of your writing time to rehash the planning process. Get a whiteboard or a bulletin board, put in near your writing space, and proudly display your list of goals. A binge writer would feel anxious when confronted with this long list of projects, but you have a schedule. Binge writers ask, "Will I get all this done?"; disciplined writers idly wonder how many weeks it will take to write everything on the list. It's gratifying to cross a project goal off the list. (How to Write a Lot 30-31)


Since I didn't have a whiteboard or bulletin board handy but still wanted to get that second step under way, I used the oversized post-it notes that I picked up on sale a few months back and stuck them to the closet doors in my office. On the far left, I have projects that have a deadline more than three months in the future or are iffy. In the middle are projects with upcoming deadlines or on which I am actively working. On the far right are completed projects (completed since I began this). And, yes, it does feel nice to have something over there.

It also feels nice to see that I have multiple things in play. The third step in the planning process is to use these project goals to set concrete daily goals. For this week, my concrete goal is to write 10 revised pages on my second book chapter. That's just something in my head. Silvia recommends spread sheets and such for tracking daily progress. I haven't set one of those up, but perhaps I will. I do have a couple of writing groups I'm accountable to on a daily and a bi-weekly basis, and those are helpful. There's also the book blog, which I haven't been very faithful to, alas. But, still, I have been writing. Not binging. Writing. It's a good thing.

30 comments:

Krista said...

Oooh, very helpful. I'm gonna clear off part of my bulletin board and do this. Thanks!

Krista said...

Ta-da!: http://www.flickr.com/photos/slimcoincidence/2062801521/

Jurgen Wolff said...

Great ideas. I also find it useful to use what I call Time Capsules--at the start of a writing session, to write down what I will accomplish in the next 45 minutes, set a timer, do the work until the timer buzzes, then assess how much I got done. After a while, you get a lot better at estimating how long things will take.

--Jurgen Wolff (www.yourwritingcoach.com)

billie said...

Oh, I so stole this idea. Check it out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/partsnpieces/2064740136/

Thanks Donna and Krista!

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