We’re told often that to be a writer is ‘to write every day’. This is born out by the habits and commitments of many talented and successful authors. But are words the only way to measure our productivity? This is what I think…probably not. A few months ago I would have said definitely yes. It depends, of course, on many things and there isn’t a right or wrong answer, as usual. Last year when I was going through a particularly bad patch I kicked myself into action by signing up to writing a number of words each day. It was exactly what I needed and along with starting to write my daily Morning Pages, it helped me plan my writing. A plan that I’ve stuck to since November. But as a self published author, there are many activities and actions that I need to undertake that don’t result in a number of words. Indeed, any writer will undertake a number of activities that can’t be considered as writing, but nevertheless are essential to the work in progress. Research is an activity that takes an enormous amount of time, especially if like me, you get sidetracked and before you know it the cats and dogs are nipping at my heels reminding me it’s time for tea!
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
As per my previous post, The Daisy Chain Publication Plan, I’m dedicating this year to polishing up and self publishing five (could be six) works in progress which have been kicking up the dust for several years. The writing is done, around 300,000 words of it… now I need to edit, rewrite and polish. As an Indie author though, it doesn’t stop there. I have to create covers, blurbs, the front matter and the back matter, proof read and upload to my preferred platform. None of these activities produce an actual word count as such, much like research the time ticks by and I sit back and wonder what on earth I’ve been doing since I rose from my bed.
Having said that, I am trying to maintain a weekly post over at My Writer Within and this blog I write twice a month. In addition I am trying to write something new, around 600 words a week in response to a creative writing prompt to ‘keep my hand in’. I’m reluctant to immerse and lose myself in new writing when my publication’to do’ list runs on and on. I’m keeping to my deadlines so far, and I suppose that alone is testament to my productivity and commitment.
“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
I’m not alone in this conundrum and I do count pages and to a certain extent time spent. I would love to hear how others measure their total activity as opposed to a word count and at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things. As long as I have a result, the publication, who cares how I got there? Must be a throwback to my days of time-sheets, action plans and justifying my pay packet – the one thing I do miss!