The Nerdy Writer's Guide To Productivity

Let me know if this scenario sounds familiar to you: 
You get all excited about working on a new story. Ideas fly fast and furious out of your fingertips and you post up a few chapters, still riding the high of creation. 
But then
But then...something happens. Your muse flies out the window or your cat pees on the carpet again or you have a big project coming up at school or work. Whatever it is, your writing flow is broken.
If you're like me, this leads to much teeth-gnashing, stress-eating, and a long string of days where you get nothing done. You wake up to comments asking where the new chapter is and you feel a lump in your throat. Now you're even more behind, and the stress mounts.
Just a few days ago, you were rocking it! The words were flying out of your fingertips! What happened?
To explain that, I'm going to use a common adage from the world of physics. What's in motion stays in motion, and what's at rest, unfortunately, stays at rest. We've all heard the "write every day" mantra, but how do we actually put that to work?
Let's dive in.
The main thing I'm going to talk about here is this: If you can track it, you can hack it.
What that means:
• A lot of times we get in writing slumps without really knowing why
• We end up missing deadlines, delaying updates, and generally feeling awful about it
• Tracking our output and other contributing factors over time can actually help us become more consistent writers
• Knowledge is power, and knowing the days and times you perform best is crucial
So here's what we're going to do:
Tomorrow, when you sit down to write, just note the date, the time you start, and the time you stop. Also, write down the number of words you've written. This can be on a napkin, a spreadsheet, or a notebook. Anywhere that's convenient for you. Maybe even put down any special events that happened that day. Maybe you had a fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe you had a huge dinner and weren't feeling well. Or maybe you were stressing out over that big test at school. This will be useful information for later.
After you've got a couple days worth of information (ideally a week or more), it's time to start looking for some trends. The first bit of math you're going to do is this:
Take the number of words you wrote each day and divide it by the amount of time you spent writing. So if I wrote for an hour and produced one thousand words, 1000 words / 60 minutes = 16.67 words per minute, average. You can do that for each day you have data on, and look at those averages.
What days have the best averages? What days have the worst? Also look at some of those contributing factors. Do you write the most words on Tuesdays? Do you find it harder to write on weekends because you have other obligations then? Don't judge these findings, just note them down.
Once you have an idea of what days, times, and situations are best for you and your writing, you can start to mold your environment around those things. If you know you don't get anything done on Wednesdays because you have tennis practice, don't promise your readers an update on Wednesdays. You're just causing yourself undue stress at that point. Similarly, you can use this information to create more realistic time estimates for your projects. Look at those average words per minute numbers again. If you have a target goal that you need to meet (such as 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo), then you can realistically see how much time it might take you, based on your own data and habits.
If you take this advice to heart, I think you'll find that you have a lot more insight into when you write best and when you don't, and how much you're actually producing each time you sit down to write. By optimizing your best times and working around your busier times, you can create more of the stories you love and keep your readers coming back for more.
Ready? Let's go crunch some numbers. And remember: If you can track it, you can hack it. Happy hacking my friends!
 Happy hacking my friends!

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