Tracking Your Progress
by Natalie Bright
Some people are more visual than others. Actually ‘seeing’ the results of your work may inspire you to keep writing. I’ve asked several writer friends about how they track their progress and how they keep themselves motivated.
An author of 30 novels uses dry eraser boards to track deadlines and list goals for each month. Her novel in progress is posted on another board with character traits, pictures of houses where her characters live, and a timeline. All there readily available while she’s writing. Authors are utilizing Pinterest in much the same way. Whatever might inspire you about that work in progress is close at hand as you write.
I adapted this idea for my freelancing. A dry eraser board lists my WIP article ideas and titles along with contest deadline dates and possible markets for each article.
I hung a second board for my middle grade novel listing main plot line notes for four novels featuring the same character. If anything comes to mind concerning this character, I scribble a note on the board. As I dig deeper and deeper into the development of my characters, I discovered a sense of having a bigger picture of their world. As I develop and learn more about their history, the people they interact with, the time period, and the setting, my mind is constantly thinking about possible scenes and adventures. I don’t want to forget anything that might become a story element.
Now I’m working on two more novel ideas, both in completely different time periods so I’m wondering if I should have a separate board for each one or one gigantic board covering an entire wall. I’ll let you know how that works.
The Year at a Glance
Another friend uses a yearly wall calendar to mark productivity. Different colored markers can be used for specific things. For example, a red pen for submissions would be title, name of publication, and editor on the date submitted. Follow-up is noted in blue. If published, I highlight the entry in yellow. Rejections are noted next to the submission with the response date. I usually write a “No” with an X over the entry. Daily words counts are listed in bright neon pink.
One of my critique group members suggested I turn the letter O in every “no” into a smiley face. Seeing lots of colored entries gives me a visual that I’m moving forward. Even the smileys makes me feel productive. At lease I’m getting my work out there.
Social Media Tracking
For another friend, the wall calendar seemed cumbersome to her. She tracks her word count, submissions, and responses on a spreadsheet, which she keeps in a brightly colored folder.
The spreadsheet idea was just what I needed to track social media posts. When I switched gears from WIP to blogs, I could never remember which ones were polished and ready, which ones were to be posted on my own website as an article, or which ones I’d forwarded to the WordsmithSix blog administrator. Plus I needed to tweet and Facebook links to the articles and I didn’t want to bombard followers with the same information over and over. A spreadsheet seemed to be the answer.
For consistency, our group assigned specific days to each member of the WordsmithSix writers. I blog every Monday, and I decided to post articles on my website on Fridays. My spreadsheet is printed on legal paper and covers about three months of Mondays and Fridays.
|Fri Jan. 4||“title”|
|Mon Jan 7||“Title”||12/20|
The twitter and facebook columns are for recording the dates and times of links that have been tweeted. I like using Hootsuite which allows me to pre-schedule and cover all of the social media outlets I’m participating in. Based on the interests of my followers, I can choose whichever groups to link to. For example, an article about writing would probably not be of interest to my cousins and friends on my personal Facebook. Target markets are important to keep in mind.
It’s all about the word count. If you keep cranking out those words, then you know you’re making progress. Even if that piece holds a future rejection, you’re still learning about story craft while you write.
How do you stay organized?
There are so many ways to stay organized. I hope this article inspires you to take control. Happy writing!