In July I started keeping a daily work log of how many hours I spent either writing or editing a particular piece. And I ended up proving to myself what many of us have long surmised–the perception of how long it takes to do a piece of work is different from the actual reality.
I’ve now got over a month’s worth of work records, and the insights provided as I flip back through the log are invaluable to me.
–I can now make a good estimate on how many hours a short story or novelette is going to take me from start to finish.
–I can make correlations between productivity and when to schedule my writing time. Certain times of the day and situations are much MUCH more productive than others for me, and I have begun to take that into account when planning the coming week’s schedule.
–It’s much harder to stay in denial if there’s a problem in productivity, because the work log shows the trend by either lack of hours, or too many hours being spent on a particular project.
–It’s motivating to look back and see the work hours that have already been logged in.
–I can quickly tell if I’m spending too much time on “niggling little stuff” and not enough on the novel or short fiction.
–If one is saying, “writing comes first,” but it’s clear from the log hours that it doesn’t (i.e that it’s coming in last behind everything else), the data is a goad to change that.
A writing log can be anything from a notepad to a daily planner. To choose mine I went to an office supply store to the planner section, and pulled down planners and calendars until I found something I liked. In my case, I loved the Action Day Planner because it combined a calendar with a project planner organized by week.