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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.

Track Your Way Out of Writer’s Block: Tricks of Tracking #3


ready-go-canstockphoto22043307-2The old saying “Ready, set, go!” won’t work for writers who want to track their way out of resistance and into satisfaction and success.

Instead, 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.

alice-in-wonderland-dont-know-where-youre-goingAs 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.

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 you know that zero minutes on that day was honoring your intention, not “slacking off” or “skipping” 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!

pencils sharpenedWhen 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. Don’t let anything else creep into that reserved time. If you absolutely must schedule something else, move the block of reserved time somewhere else on that day — don’t delete it.

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!

calendar-track-123rf-number-64140661_sIdeally, 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.

Record your start time as you begin. With practice, tracking your start time becomes part of the ritual that leads you into your writing (or Process or Self-care).

Record your ending time and other details you’re tracking at the end of the session. 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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