If you’re anything like me, then chances are you’re wondering how on earth it’s July already. Heck, even April took me by surprise and it feels like 2012 is zipping by a little too quickly. This is why I advocate the use of a diary. Note: I do not mean a journal. Nor do I mean an organiser. I mean ‘diary’ in the sense of ‘keep a list of what you’ve done so you can find out when you did it’.
Let me elaborate. I’m pretty good at remembering what I need to do and when it needs to be done. Blame six years of office management and juggling multiple calendars. So I don’t really use organisers because I just don’t need to. Useless talent #45, I suppose. But remembering what I did, and when? That’s the problem. It’s even more of an issue when it comes to writing – just when did I submit that short story, and when did I start my WiP? It’s especially useful to know what stories you’ve submitted, when you sent them, and who you sent them to, because it’s easy to lose track of them once you hit ‘send’.
If you use Duotrope’s Digest to find fiction markets, then they already have a submission tracker that you can use. But I find a simple spreadsheet does the trick. The columns along the top are labeled according to publication, and those down the side are the pieces I submit. I enter the date submitted into the relevant box – I apply a green fill if it’s accepted, yellow if I still haven’t heard back after six months, and red if it’s rejected. Easy.
I also have a diary I bought that features a whole week across a double page spread. I enter pertinent writing related things in it – when I started a story, when I finished a story, when I got halfway through and decided to change direction entirely, etc. Why am I advocating this? Two reasons. It’s particularly useful to be able to record your progress in some kind of tangible form, especially when those acceptances start to rack up. You can look at your record every time you get a rejection, to remind yourself of those times when someone said “Yes”.
Besides that, it’s also important so you can note patterns – do you find that you never finish stories that you start during holidays, but any time you start on a Monday you always get them finished in record time? Maybe you find that you always write around 1k words on a Wednesday, but none at all on Thursdays. You’ll be able to tailor your writing schedule to your successes if you know what works.
Do you keep a record of your writing?