Data Mine the Work
Yesterday in my post, The Exploratory Draft, I mentioned the interview I read in The Writer with Adam Johnson. Johnson, like many writers, believes that successful stories come out of hard work. You have to put in the hours. He writes at least 1,000 words per day and he keeps track of his progress in a spreadsheet. He notes, among other things, the day, the time, the place he wrote, the story, and the number of words. He said that over the years, he’s been able to “data mine” his spreadsheet to see where and what time of day he’s the most productive.
I know. It sounds a bit …. uh, rigid, this record-keeping. But I must confess, it totally appealed to my organizational sensibilities, and I started doing it immediately. I even gave myself the goal of 1,000 words per day. I think that writing the words and keeping track of my progress, even for a few months, could produce extremely useful information as my writing career blossoms. It could be helpful to know that, for example, that I’m more productive in the afternoon, but I write my best stuff at night.
I told all of this to a writing friend of mine and she said that she kept a spreadsheet for awhile, too. And she realized that she was the most productive and wrote the absolute best stuff ever when she went away to writer’s conferences. There she was completely free from any non-writing distraction. I have one of those coming up in August and I’m looking forward to the time I’ll be able to devote to my craft.