It seems like many of us struggle with the idea of calling ourselves “writers.” I know that’s true for me, and I know many of my writing friends feel that way too. In a writing group I belong to, one of the great sayings is: “A writer is one who writes.”
I love that phrase. It is simple and inspiring. And unarguably matter-of-fact. Even so, sometimes I still doubt.
One method that I have started using which has helped me immensely in any number of ways is to keep a writing log. No, not a journal. It is not a place to write. Rather, it is a way for me to keep track of my writing.
A typical run of entries might look something like this:
9/30/09 Wrote 2 pages.
9/28/09 Edited 7 pages.
9/18/09 Wrote 2 pages.
9/15/09 Read 10 pages, edited 3.
9/12/09 Cut 4 pages.
And so forth. This technique has helped me so much. First, it keeps me accountable, if only to myself. If I choose to share it with friends (as I have elsewhere), it makes me even more accountable. If they are paying attention, they can tell me “hey – I see you haven’t written anything in the past few weeks – everything OK? Need a jump start? Keep going, you can do it.” Or, they might notice that I’ve had a good run, and might cheer me on. Even if they don’t respond in any fashion, it still helps me to be accountable to myself, and to a community of writers.
Second, it’s useful for me to see where my time is going. Have I been mostly writing, or mostly editing? After a few weeks or months of keeping a log like this, I may be able to notice patterns. I might find that I’m more productive at the end of the month. Or that when I am editing, I move much faster than when I am writing. Or that when progress seems slow, that’s OK, because it will be followed by a strong outburst of activity.
Keeping a log like this also helps keep me in a routine. I know that every night I write, I have to “check in” and make a note of my progress. It’s kind of like the ol’ marks on the wall to mark a child’s growth. These are my marks. Sometimes the growth is tiny and incremental; other times it comes in great bursts.
Finally, what I like best about keeping a log like this is when I tally things up at the end of the month. I come up with some amazing and surprising numbers. For instance, all along, maybe my progress has been “write 2 pages” or “edit 4 pages” for many days. Well, at the end of the month, it’s not unusual for me to total everything up and be astonished to discover that I’ve written 60 pages – or edited 80! Yes, folks, those are real numbers. And I am not a full time writer.
It helps me realize that even just a page a day can add up to a whopping 30 pages by the end of the month. That even the smallest work, if done consistently, can add up, and can get me where I want to go. I can now say, with confidence – I am a writer!
© writingreading, 2009