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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.

Tricks of Tracking: KISS


habit-tracker-goal-streaks-calendarThe second trick of tracking for writing success is KISS: Keep It Simple and Seen. The system you use for tracking needs to be simple, quick, easy to use and readily accessible.

It could be a chart with gold stars on your office wall, a legal pad on your desk, a Moleskine notebook in your pocket (which admittedly is not seen so much as felt; the point is that it’s something you’ll notice.)

You can download one of a multitude of apps for tracking habits. Be sure whatever tracking tool you use is not so sophisticated that it takes a lot of time to learn or to use it daily. Notice if you get distracted by other apps when you access your habit tracker; you could end up delaying the start of your Product Time.

My philosophy is if it takes you more than three clicks/taps or more than 30 seconds of searching your physical space to access your tracking system, it needs to be simplified. Use whatever works for you without you having to work too hard to make it work.

I happen to use a simple table in Word that is always open on my computer desktop. I started tracking my Product Time in a Word table in April of 2010 and added a row every week. By the end of 2015, the table exceeded 120 pages. Some people tell me that a table that big should really be an Excel spreadsheet, but because I’m not adept in Excel, spreadsheets are not quick and easy and therefore not a good tracking tool for me. (I did start a new Word file in 2016.)

You’ll find both pdf and Word file versions of two tracking tables (one for tracking the three habits of Process, Self-Care and Product Time, the other for tracking more details about Product Time) on the Around the Writer’s Block Forms page of this blog.

Feel free to adapt these to suit your needs. If you don’t want to track as many details about Product Time as I do, don’t. If you want to track more, go ahead.

What tracking tools do you use to Keep It Simple and Seen?

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