This week I’m at a writer’s conference in Port Townsend, the Centrum Writer’s Conference. Tonight I’m sitting in my hotel room, thinking about the week ahead. In the mornings I have a class all week with a wonderful instructor called Sayantani Dasgupta, author of Fire Girl: Essays on India, America, and the In-Between. With every morning committed in this week-long course, I’m keeping the afternoons open to work on my own writing.
I used to come to a conference and rush around, going to every class session and workshop, filling every day with instruction. Looking back, I realized it was hard to digest all that information. Not only that, but afterward I missed being able to spend time actually writing myself. Now I try to look over the schedule with an eye to blocking out time each day to be able to write.
When you are a writer (or photographer or textile artist), the days can seem to flip by (like on those old-fashioned calendars in the movies) without seeming to make progress. This week I’m going to try a new experiment in productive writing: setting specific writing goals. Each day I’ll write down my goal(s) for that day’s writing. And at the end of the day, I’ll check to see if I’ve made the goal, how long it took, and what I learned about my writing and the writing process itself.
Setting goals is a proven way to achieving success, but the creative spirit does not always lend itself to linearity or measurement. Yet, by asking myself what really matters in my work, what I really want to accomplish, I hope to help the creative spirit to focus on what is really important.
Join me! If you’re interested in becoming a more productive writer, let’s engage in this together. Each time you sit down to write this week, take a post-it note or open your calendar and write down your goal for that writing session. Try to make it measurable and concrete. Some examples: write for 30 minutes on a new short story; spend 45 minutes doing writing exercises; identify three new markets for that story I want to send out.
Let’s check back in with each other next Sunday and see how we did! Have a great week of writing.