As you might be aware, I am writing a book for ALA Editions set to come out next year. This has been such an exciting opportunity for me, and the staff at ALA Editions have been amazing to work with.
As most authors will tell you, writing a book is fun but hard! Staying on track to meet your book deadline, while also juggling other responsibilities, requires a balancing act.
Because I am a creative person and a process person, I have developed a method for keeping myself on track so that I can reach my deadline of 60,000 words by the end of 2019. For those of you who might be writing books or considering it, I thought I’d share a few strategies I’ve developed to stay on track.
When I first started working on my manuscript, I needed a way to visualize my progress, so I created what I like to call a “thermometer chart.” You know in fundraisers, when they have a thermometer with the fundraising goal at the top, and they fill in the “temperature” levels as they get closer to the goal? I wanted one of those.
When I couldn’t find an app to do this, I created a simple spreadsheet. Not only does it help me visualize my goal, it also gives me the percentage of words I’ve written out of my total goal. [If you’d like to do something like this yourself, simply do a web search for “thermometer chart excel.” That’s how I figured it out.]
It’s a great motivator each day I write, to plug in my new word count and see that thermometer and percentage go up. This is a way to hold myself accountable. It also gives me an answer when people ask, “How is the book going?” I can answer, “Oh, I’m at 41 percent!” or wherever I happen to be at the moment.
As I got into the late part of August, though, I needed a more specific way to measure my progress compared to how much time I had left before my deadline. So I calculated how many words I would need to write per week to get me from my current word count to my 60,000 target. Then I created a simple line graph to track my weekly word output. [You can find instructions for this by searching “line graph excel.”]
This has been even more helpful as I approach the final months before my deadline. One line shows me weekly targets, and the other shows my actual progress. If the progress line dips below the target, I know I need to adjust quickly.
As you can see, I started out comfortably ahead of my targets, but have fallen back to barely meeting my weekly goals. This is a symptom of getting busier as the fall starts and my client work picks up. But I am confident that these trusty tools will keep me on track.
No system will work for everyone, but this works for me. I find the actual writing of the book to be the most fun part of the process, but as I get busier, I have to work harder to carve out time. This is where the tools above have been really helpful.