Progress is Invisible Unless You Track It

Making progress is invisible unless you track it. Especially when you’re a slow writer or working on a long-term project, you need to track your progress. Evaluating your progress is essential to learning how to improve your processes. And making my monthly reports to you keeps me on task.

Image of a black and white target with a red dart perfectly centered on the red bull's eye but how do you know when you've hit a project's target? For long-term projects, progress is invisible unless you track it.

How To Track Progress

My way involves a calendar journal and spreadsheets. Breaking a task, like writing a novel, down into its smallest parts helps keep the creator from being overwhelmed. Focusing only on the small parts can make the creator feel as if they work and work without making progress. 

The way I combat the disillusionment of I’m-not-getting-anything-done, is to track my time, word counts, and project “steps.” You can use your calendar, a tally sheet, or a day planner. Anything that helps you keep track of what you’ve accomplished and what you need to do next will work. The Write Practice has a basic post about tracking progress for writers.

Intentions vs. Goals

I use intentions rather than goals. Intentions allow business to give way to life and life to give way to business. I also use three broad baskets to describe what I do: Making (anything creative), Managing (any non-writing and non-marketing duties), Marketing (from creating ads to attending marketing events), and Home (all activities not related to creating or selling books—from appointments to yard care).

Making

I’m delighted to report progress! More words, more chapters revised, and more time on the making and creating side of business. I have not finished If I Should Die. SIGH. I’m seeing a glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel. I doubt I’ll finish it next month but am hopeful I will finish this draft and send it to beta readers at the end of September or first of October.

Managing

No power outages this month, thank goodness. I’ve made progress in this area too. In the managing area particularly, making progress is invisible unless you track it. Thanks to my spreadsheet, I can see that I’ve caught up on several tasks. Not totally caught up, but I was nearly a year behind so there’s a lot of little things to get done.

One thing I’ve added back into my day is listening to podcasts about writing and marketing and history. Feels good to do that again.

Marketing

Fortunately, it takes very little effort to keep Amazon ads running. New ads on Amazon take a time and work. I’ve met my intentions in the Marketing area. And I’ve benefited from making a few tweaks I learned about in a podcast.

Home

Photograph of the living room of an old, abandoned house--a pedal driven sewing machine, a dining table, and upholstered chairs are thick with dust--progress is invisible unless you track it--in this place, I think it might be visible.

There’s even been progress on the home front. This has been the most neglected area during the past five months, so any progress is progress. My vertigo has lessened significantly. I am experiencing more and more time when I have no vertigo. Yay!

After a half-day of mini-drama, they delivered my new washing machine. Miracle of miracles, I can complete all my laundry in a single day. Guess I needed one more than I knew. *Smile*

I spent half-a-day with two different couples I hadn’t seen in—gosh, a long time. We are all vaccinated and quite isolated. Visiting in person with them was a real treat.

Not only did I get some more of my husband’s things sorted, I gave some items to appropriate persons/organizations. So the house is a bit neater. While no one would say my house is neat and clean, the health department won’t kick me out… yet. (I haven’t reached the level of dust in the house pictured above.)

Events

Felt good enough I attended my weekly write in group and critique group two or three times this month.I also attended a dozen online classes focused on the writing business. 

Last Month & Last Year

I came extremely close to doubling my word count over last month. Yet, I’m still woefully behind in words written compared to July 2020. 

Between all that’s happened the first six months of this year and the fact that I’m revising, I’m counting this month as a win. Higher word counts will come in time, and will soar when I draft book three.

What I Learned

I started reading Robert McKee’s Dialogue: the Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, and Screen. McKee has an interesting take on what functions as dialogue in a story. His view is that all parts of a story are dialogue. I have to agree in that all parts of a story are at least a dialogue with the reader. I’m eager to delve deeper into his insights.

At the beginning of the month I struggled with “the next chapter.” No matter what I wrote, it wasn’t as compelling as I want my stories to be. It took a few days, but I finally remembered to stop and go deeper into the viewpoint character’s mind and heart. Once I did that, the writing flowed.

Going Forward

Creative work comes first. That’s my focus. If I’m not putting story words on paper, I’m not myself. Off my game, I am morose and certain I’m spiraling in a negative direction. Tracking it, evaluating it monthly keeps me mindful of what I do. Reporting here keeps me honest about it. In many creative endeavors, making progress is invisible unless you track it. Do you track the progress of your creative endeavors?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *