Productivity Challenge in the New Year, Write it Out

I have never been a writer with a routine. One of the most dichotomous things about me includes my strange love and hate for routines. When someone messes up my routine, the levels of anxiety are not easily expressed, and yet when I feel confined to a schedule and every minute has an allotted action, it’s an entirely different level of maddening and stressing…sometimes.

I will, however, also admit that at times I don’t do as much as I could during the day, in part because it is so very easy to fall into my home routine since my work at the moment…well, is also at home. When I’m in a productive mood, I *love* how much I can accomplish in a few hours. But I also bully and berate myself when I’ve let hours go by without applying myself the way I could, which is far less productive or good. This approach obviously has gotten me nowhere so far (though with a strange mix of both I’ve managed to finish my novel, so I guess that’s something, haha!)

I have a lot of goals for next year, as does everyone this time of year. I don’t do resolutions on New Year’s but I do reassess what I want to see different in the year to come; I go through what I’m most proud of and what I wish I’d done differently the most. This year, after reading through productive writerThe Productive Writer by Sage Cohen, which I received after being the randomly chosen winner of the extrinsic value prize for participating and completing the October Platform Challenge , the planner/organizer side of me became extremely excited…mainly because there were lists involved. But there was a lot in this book to take away and I definitely recommend it for anyone trying to get going in their writing career, or struggling with the level of productivity and you’re not sure where or how you need to make some changes.

When it comes to being productive and seeing progress towards your goals, you need to define them and find how to make them happen. One of the best places to start, is to write it down: write down your goals, write down the steps, your thoughts. You have to start somewhere, but writing it down does more than you think for helping you assess where you are, where you need to go, and how to get there. For me, there’s something about writing these things down that makes them more attainable, as well as is a call to action to get them done….I really love checking things off my lists when they’re done.

So, after defining my current goals and the steps I needed to meet them, I decided that it was time to give myself a challenge; see how productive I can be, and how it feels, to have a real writing/work routine. I’ve been fighting over how detailed or not to make this, but between Sage’s suggestions and my own experiences, I’ve decided to opt for a similar strategy that I employed to hit the 50K mark for NaNoWriMo this year which is: a plan with a clear goal and a steady path that will lead me there, with options to alter the path along the way. This seems like the best approach for me in general, so now I’m applying it here to see how it goes.

So here is my challenge- for the month of January I will have work days and working hours with goals I plan to meet each week by following a proposed routine for the day. After that, I will evaluate my efforts, see how productive I am, and how I felt keeping to my routine. My hope is that there is enough flexibility in my schedule to account for my dislike for every moment needing to be planned, while having enough routine to result in productivity.
While my schedule includes all things writing, it will also include time for reading (which is also part of my job, and is necessary for a modicum of sanity), and art/crafting. Here’s my projected schedule for January as of now:

Day Time & Task
Monday ·         2 hours- Research (markets, assignments, contests, submissions, novel, etc)

·         1 hour- craft/art (draw, paint, clay, sewing, wire, etc.)

·         2 hours- Writing (short stories, novel, blog posts, poem, articles, etc.)

·         1 hour- Reading (work or pleasure)

Tuesday ·         2 hours- Writing

·         1 hour- craft/art

·         1 hour- “connecting”/ catching up on community, blogs, etc.

·         2 hours- Reading

Wednesday ·         3 hours- Writing

·         1 hour- proposals, queries, etc.

·         1 hour- Research

·         1 hour- Reading

Thursday ·         2 hours- Writing

·         1 hour- crafting/art

·         1 hour- Research

·         2 hours- Reading

Friday ·         2 hours- Writing

·         2 hours- submissions, querying, etc.

·         1 hour- art/craft

·         1 hour- Reading

My plan is to define what I will be working on a bit more specifically each week with a list of weekly goals that will lead up to meeting my monthly goals. I can also work on a Saturday instead of a Tuesday, if I feel like it, and I have no set schedule of when I will do which so that I have a chance to shake things up if I want.

It will be interesting to see how this goes. What are some of your writing goals and how do you plan to achieve them?

**Don’t forget my giveaway of The Productive Writer**

You Might Also Like:

Slay the Monster: 10 Things to Try When you Want to Cry from Writer’s Block
Some Resources and Things to Remember about NaNoWriMo 
October Platform Challenge from Writer’s Digest, Not Just for October



8 thoughts on “Productivity Challenge in the New Year, Write it Out

  1. I created an Editorial Calendar during the Oct Challenge, and it has helped, but I don’t always stick to it. At least it’s out there for me to know what I would like to be doing. But I forgot to give myself some reading time – I read while I eat lunch (no wonder I’m so far behind on my reading). It’s odd, but for the hours I listed to be writing, things like research, submissions, etc. are included in that to my way of thinking, since they all have to do with writing. I should add reading to that as well.

    The one goal I need to focus on, and soon, is revising my novel (the one I had before NaNoWriMo). I have edits from an editor, and I got them in late Oct, and still have done nothing about them. When I get back from skiing – I’ll do them then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have to start somewhere, so kudos for that! I too had just used “writing” to mean all things writing but then I just had one huge block of time labeled “writing” with nothing in particular to focus on getting done. This lack of focus is part of my problem, I get too many things going and am not sure where to start first sometimes. Arranging my blocks of time with more particular things to work on, it was much easier to see how I could possibly reach my goals….if I stick to it, haha. It will be an interesting month. Best of luck with keeping to some schedule on your own and enjoy your skiing! Safe travels.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your daily tasks look great. I am a devoted fan of daily checklists – I find seeing the row of checks at the end of the day very encouraging, especially if it has been a hard day. Like James, I also created an editorial calendar in October. I am somewhat less devoted to that, but I do at least pay it a visit every day. After the platform challenge in October and NaNoWriMo in November, December felt like a very low productivity month for me, both writing and editing wise. It has been a little frustrating, and I am looking forward to things loosening up now that the holidays are over, and getting back to business. Oh – and Happy New Year to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Elizabeth! Indeed, daily checklists are an immense help, and make me absurdly happy when I can check something off, haha. I wish you luck on keeping up with your goals! You can do it!!


  3. I really like the time blocking idea and it’s what I used last year to be very productive! I have an aversion to schedules too, so this seems to work better for me. I still have a tendency to try and plan out the perfect schedule, though I think I’m better sticking with a similar structure to what you have here! Thanks so much for sharing, I love seeing how everyone plans out their writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, as an organizer I try for the perfect schedule, but living in this body long enough has taught me that you need to leave some breathing room. Good luck with your schedule! Thank you for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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