It’s an easy trap to fall into – you don’t write for a day or two, so you don’t track your writing for those days. Two days stretch into three or four and since you’re still not recording your writing time (as zero minutes for the day), you start to get hazy about how long it’s been. You slowly sink into quicksand and don’t even notice.
The only way you can ensure you won’t get to the end of the week (or month, or longer) and suddenly realize the quicksand is up to your waist (or your neck, or higher) is to track what happens with your writing habits every day. Even on the days when you don’t do anything. Especially on the days you don’t do anything.
If you write “zero minutes” in the spot for Product Time (in whatever tracking system you use) on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday and Thursday, you can’t really be surprised when Sunday rolls around and you haven’t put in the five 15-minute sessions you intended.
I’m not telling you to do this to make you feel guilty; I’m telling you to do this so you will know what’s going on. If you notice when resistance is pushing you away, you are in a position to push back. You give yourself the awareness you need to do what you really want to do.
Track Every Day
I track every day and I track throughout the day. I write down what I did right after I complete a session. So if I spend an hour writing and posting a blog, I record “1 hour blog” as Product Time. If I spend 45 minutes reading while I’m on the treadmill at the Y, I record “45 minutes research” for Product Time and “45 minutes exercise” for Self-Care as soon as I get back to my office.
At the end of my work day, I think about what I’ve accomplished and what I need to focus on the next day. If I’ve had an unusually busy day and haven’t done at least 15 Magic Minutes for Product Time, I’ll notice it then and put in another 15 minutes before I quit for the day.
After years of consistently practicing Process and Self-Care and checking-in each week with the students in my Writing Habit class, these are deeply engrained habits. I no longer need to write down what I do for Process and Self-Care, but every weekday around 8:30 in the evening I think about whether I’ve done Process and Self-Care yet. If not, I do them then. But because I noticed I got hazy about Process the last time I was between Writing Habit classes, I’m tracking and will continue to track Process until my next Writing Habit class starts in March.
If you want engrained writing habits, you need to track what you do every day. You’ll find more Tricks of Tracking in my next post.