On Being Productive…

I was recently encouraged to create more personal blog posts, so here we go. Two in a row.

Today’s topic concerns being productive and how it affects us as writers. Personally (see, personal), I struggle with productivity. Not because I don’t have it, but because I never think it is enough. If I manage to write 2000 words in a day I will automatically think I wasn’t productive enough because if I really tried I could have thrown down 3000.  And if I get 3000, I expect I should have done 4000. The bar is always inching away. It will never be good enough, no matter how hard I work, and yet I keep pounding away anyway. Funny enough, there is a particular limit to word count in a day though, inspired by a writer I met at last year’s DFWcon. Somehow, this writer managed a 10,000 word day and so I automatically decided “Well, if she can do it, then it can be done. Also, if you hit that goal, you’ll have a book done in eight days.”

Yeah, right.

I know it’s unrealistic. I know it’s foolish and in a way counterproductive. But that is my mind. I think many writers think the same way. “If I could only get one more chapter done.” We are plagued with unrealistic expectations.

I have not had a good week. Personal life and forces beyond my control have thrown things into a tailspin. And my work has suffered as a result. I should almost be done editing my current MS at the moment, but I’m only at about 75%. And I should have about ten more queries out by now.

But you know what? It’s okay. I am allowed to fall behind. I am allowed to have my personal life interfere every once in a while. Not everything has to be done today. There is a quote from my youth that my father used to love: “Why put off for tomorrow what you can accomplish today?” And for a long time that has driven me. But I think I finally have an answer: “Because sometimes you need to take some time for life. To experience what is happening around you instead of keeping your nose to the grindstone. Because things are fleeting and you will miss them if you’re working all the time.”

I know I will struggle with this for a while. I don’t adapt to rapid change easily. But I’m working on it. Try not to work too hard my friends, don’t miss what is precious for the sake of meeting your deadlines.

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