Monday, March 19, 2012

The Accomplishments List

Like most things,it started as an experiment in self improvement. My mission--to stop beating myself up once and for all about my productivity. Now, this is not a put down, only a mere statement of fact--it takes me a long time to get anything done. Specifically, to complete a project. I'm not talking perfection here, just completion. And of course, I'm talking manuscripts.

Example: It took me about a year to complete a draft of Wyverngirl to turn into my agent. After that, it went through 6-8 months of revisions before it went out on sub last month. Perhaps that's not a great deal of time in the grand scheme, but to me it seemed like forever, especially in a world where many, MANY writers complete a 60K+ word manuscripts in a matter of months... I shudder to think that Morte, my current work in progress (terrible title, I know, but I'm working on it), is now about 8 or 9 months old. 

I can do it all! Thanks WW2 Database!
I know that this is my process, and everyone's is different, and it's going to take as long as it takes--but determined to have a better image of myself as a writer and worker, I did some serious reflection as to WHY it was taking me so long to get things done. It came down to two reasons (excuses):
  1. Sigh. I am distracted by the glitter of the Internet; shopping, social networking, checking email, blogging, shopping. Sigh.
  2. I do A LOT of other things.
I realize that if all I did was write, there's a VERY strong possibility (certainty) I'd be in the same boat with #1, but this exercise was supposed to make me feel better about myself and my process. So I came up with "The Accomplishment List." I make to-do lists all the time: what I have to get done today, this week, this month. my goals for the year. etc. etc. But what about what I managed to get done?

Yes we can!
I decided to do it month by month, recording accomplishments large (completing a beta read or manuscript writing chunk) and small (outlining a presentation or doing a blog post), avoiding the minutia of the daily to do list. Now three months in, I marvel at how I managed to write as much as I did (procrastination aside of course). I plan on continuing the project through at least the end of the year; the benefits are already manifesting. Celebrating accomplishments has made me...
  • ...feel much better about my process. I do a lot, dammit.
  • ...examine exactly WHAT I'm doing. What is the value of the task I devote time to? Is it worth the sacrifice of time? Would my time be better spent elsewhere?
  • ...cut down on down on procrastination time. It's not completely eliminated yet, but I can see the number of accomplishments on my lists has grown each month--as well as the degree of challenge of those accomplishments--since I started documenting them.
So what do you think--worth a try? What are your procrastination busting methods? Your productivity boosters? This inquiring mind wants to know!

10 comments:

  1. It's an excellent goal and it sounds as if you're making progress. :)

    Just one thing: it isn't alot but a lot.

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  2. Don't worry dahlink, I have my whip! *Snap!

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  3. You're aces in our book, dear Natalie. You accomplish A LOT and the concept of an Accomplishment List is a great accomplishment in itself. I smell a new book and lots more to accomplish!

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    1. Thanks dahlink! I love it when something really works--and for me, this did. I really also should add that I like being in the thick of things, so this was also a means for me to get a reign on it all... but a new book sounds fab--bring it on!

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  4. Natalie, you have A LOT to be proud of :) Keep it up.

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  5. I really have to try something like this. I'm getting overwhelmed at the moment. So much I want to do, and yet nothing seems to be getting done.

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    1. It's a real upper--because you ARE getting things done :)

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