May 25, 2017

Just Start: My One Month Writing Commitment

Just Start:
My One Month Writing Commitment

It's about time I made a public commitment. Does it matter that no one reads this? Not at all.

I commit to writing every day for the next month. I've planned a writing schedule so here are the details.

My requirements are scheduled by the time I put in but my goals are counted by the word I want to write. For example, when I require myself to write for an hour my objective is 200 words. I've found that timed writing and word-count writing each have their advantages and disadvantages so I'm trying to think both ways.

I'll do a full writing tasks from Monday to Saturday and short writing tasks on Sundays and vacation days (I'll be visiting family from June 19–25 so this is my vacation).

My full tasks begin at 1 hour (200 words), but my goal is to work up to 2–3 hours by July (400–600 words). Short writing tasks are 10–20%. The purpose of short writing isn't to make serious progress since I'm beginning with a mere 12 minutes—the purpose is to keep a streak going. I can always work on something for 12 minutes, and once I build up my discipline and habit I «hope» I can easily write for 20–30 minutes on my off days.

To be effective this can't be free writing—my writing has to be objective-based—I need to complete projects. To this end every writing task includes 4 parts which I've timed for a goal of 200 words:

1. review the outline (5min)

2. write the draft (25 min)

3. edit the draft and incorporate it into the full project (25 min)

4. review the day's work and alter the outline as needed (5min)

I've broken my schedule down like this so I can always work in discrete, 30 minutes sessions. If I've only got half an hour to do something, I can finish the first or second half of a 200 word writing session. Even if my goal for that day is 600 words, I can complete it in 6 different parts. I work best in periods of about 90 minutes, but there should never be an excuse not to write.

I need to get things done. For my writing to count, I need to deliver. That means blog posts, reviews, short stories, and essays need to be posted the day I finish.

To keep myself focused on delivering, I'll only allow myself three active projects: 1 blog post, 1 short form analysis (an essay or review) or short form narrative (a story, travel report, or memoir fragment), 1 long form narrative (for now, a novella). If I want to turn to something else I have to either finish my current project or delete it. I might make an exception for long form writing after the month is over, but in general I need to feel the painful consequences of not finishing what I've started.

In 10 days of writing I'll devote 2 days to my blog, 3 days to long form narrative, and 5 days to short form analysis or narrative. I won't be more strict than that.

So that's my commitment. Once I build up my writing to 2-3  hours it should yield a blog post every week, an essay or story every couple of weeks, and a novella in about a year.

This isn't the first writing plan I've had. I doubt it will be the last. I always find problems with my newest idea. And yet my next idea is always better because I incorporate what worked and jettison what didn't. No matter, it's a start and it'll keep me going for a month.