Monday, March 4, 2013

A New Way to Track Your Growth as a Writer

It doesn't matter if you wrote today or not. You are a writer.
It's time to start living like one.
 ©2013 JELindsay

You just glanced at your calendar and realized once again that your resolution to write 2,000 words a day has turned into praying you can reach 2,000 words this month. Who knew life could be so inconsiderate of your writing time?

Or perhaps, like me, you get so fixated on reaching a certain number that the words stop coming. The daily quota that was intended to encourage you to reach a goal has now become a 20-pound stone in the stomach instead.

Numbers, letters, and I have never mixed well (just ask my old algebra teacher), so this year I decided on a different approach to track my progress. I call it, “The Writer’s File.”

At the end of each day, I open up the Top Secret Document on my laptop. I type in the date and add an entry that looks similar to this:

March 2, 2013 — Today, I am a writer. I developed character sketches for two of my secondary characters who will ultimately play larger roles in my protagonist’s life, and discovered what they have to do with each other. I also posted a review of Jim’s newest book. Today, I fulfilled my purpose as a writer. Tomorrow I will do the same.

No matter how I spent my day (even the days I chose not to write), each entry begins and ends with the exact same words, and each entry is limited to 3 or 4 sentences. This serves three purposes:

1) The first sentence affirms that I am a writer now, not that I will be a writer someday. It encourages me to keep at it even when I don’t want to.

2) The short entries give me a concise record (sans emotions) of daily accomplishments and ideas. This gives me something more tangible to look back at on days when I’m stuck or I feel like a failure.

3) The last sentence puts my mind to rest when it’s time to sleep. It’s a reminder that, as hard as I try, there will always be something left undone. I did my best today and tomorrow (Lord willing) I’ll have the opportunity to do so again.

So if the words aren’t adding up for you this year, it’s not too late to try a new approach. However you choose to track your progress just remember one thing: You are a writer. Get out there and fulfill your purpose!

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