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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Set, Ready, Go! More Tricks of Tracking Your Writing


ready go canstockphoto22043307 (2)The old saying “Ready, set, go!” is the wrong order for writers who want to track their way out of resistance and into satisfaction and success.

You need to Set (your intentions), Ready (the resources) and Go (track yourself).

Set Your Intentions!

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but the road to limbo is paved with no intentions. As the Caterpillar tells Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going, it really doesn’t matter which road you take.”

At the beginning of the week, set your intentions in whatever tracking chart, table or tool you use. For each day of the coming week, record what you commit to do for Process, Self-Care or Product Time or some other activity. (For more about Process, Product Time and Self-care, click on “Recommended Resources” in the Categories list in the right column.)

Be sure to set zero intentions on your days off; for example, record “0 minutes for Product Time” on the days you don’t intend to do Product Time. That way when you do 0 minutes on that day, you know you’ve honored your intention (not “slacked off” or “missed” or any other pejorative phrase your Saboteur might try to use against you.)

Click here to see a Sample Tracking Sheet the way it looks after you set intentions.

Ready The Resources!

When you know where you want to go and what you intend to do, you need to prepare yourself to go there and do that. Make sure you have the resources you’ll need.

Reserve time in your calendar to do what you commit to.

Make sure you have the supplies. It’s pretty hard to honor your commitment to play with clay for 15 minutes for Process on Tuesday, for example, if you don’t have any clay to play with. You either need to get clay before Tuesday or change your intention to a Process activity you already have supplies for.

Go Track Yourself!

Ideally, your next step is to do what you intended to do. As you develop and strengthen your habits, you will do what you intend more and more often. Whether you honor the commitment or not, record what you actually did right after you do it. If you don’t do anything, record “0 minutes” at the end of the day.

Be specific and factual. (“Tuesday: Played with clay 15 minutes” for example or “Tuesday: 5 minutes looking for clay, didn’t find any.”) As we’ll explore in an upcoming post, it’s vital to focus on facts and avoid judgment when you track.

Stay flexible. Life happens. If you get sick or have an emergency and would not go to a job where someone else pays you to show up, record “PTO” (Personal Time Off) on your tracking sheet.

Change your intention on the tracking sheet when necessary. For example, if you get injured on Tuesday, Self-care might need to change from “workout at gym” to “rest and ice” on Wednesday and “do stretches my physical therapist gave me” on Thursday and Friday. But don’t change the intention without a legitimate reason.

Click here to see a Sample Tracking Sheet completed with stars (and here’s why I use stars).

You’ll find tracking sheets (in pdf at Three Habits Tracking Table and in a Word file at Three Habits Tracking Table) and other forms you can copy and use on the Around the Writers Block Forms page.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to Keep Your Habenula from Blocking Your Writing | Bane of Your Resistance - January 28, 2016

    […] counts or publishing credits, just show up for your 15 Magic Minutes every time you say you will. Tracking your efforts will allow you to adjust as needed, and you will achieve your […]

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