Friday, August 26, 2011

The 600 Minute A Week Dare

Well I FINALLY figured out a method of measuring the clean up writing tasks (editing, rearranging, back-filling, changing clues - the stuff that happens toward the end of writing a book, and which can't be measured by word count) which feels like word count.

Counting minutes!

D'uh. They are a tiny unit, so they drive you to do just a little bit more (unlike hours and schedules), and they are non-judgmental and easy-to-measure. These are all the factors that make counting words the goal in a writing Dare -- so minutes should be just as good.

Plus, minutes are also really easy to guestimate in terms of what you might have available, but by counting them rather than scheduling them, you can be more flexible about when you do them. (I've tried "time-based" dare goals before, and they are always blown away by life.)

So.... The semester has begun. There will be much competition for my time and mindspace -- but I think I can get more writing done anyway, if I think in terms of racking up minutes. Kind of like a change jar helps with saving money.

I figure I can manage 10 hours a week on-task even if things get crazy, so this coming week:

  • Midnight Tonight through Midnight Sept 02
  • 600 minutes
  • On task with The Man Who Did Too Much

It should not be that hard, and it leaves time for distractions. I hope that two weeks on task with this goal should finish that book up, but after I see what happens with this week, I'll adjust next week's goal.

For the weekend update tomorrow, I'll be looking forward to some new dares for the fall, including my 1001 Ideas Dare, and some external dare sites -- like ROW80 and NaNoWriMo. Some of these are pretty flexible, so you may want to join in.

See you in the funny papers.

(The illustration, btw, is from an ad in Top Notch Magazine, May 1915.)


a said...

Let us know how this goes. I'd be interested to see if you find yourself as productive, counting minutes, as you did when you counted only words. It could have the positive reinforcement effect of better measuring something that was a softer goal before (e.g. number of pages proofread, or rewritten).

The downside to measuring by minutes is probably obvious. In my former profession, I billed for my time, and charged by the hour. That hour was usually split into segments as small as five minutes. The challenge: to ensure the client felt they received value for the time spent. Your evaluation of value received (clean-up tasks accomplished) will depend on how effectively you can flip from an off-task state of mind to an on-task one. If you already view yourself as a good multi-tasker, you probably have the ability. The human brain doesn't really multi-task, despite what women feeling superior to men will try to tell you; it merely slices and dices the available time to cope with all necessary tasks.

The Daring Novelist said...

That's actually going to be the easy part: the only minutes which count are "nose-in-book" minutes. Period. Not research, not note taking, nothing else.

I am actually very good at being conscious of what I am doing, and switching from one mode to another.

You comments have triggered a _bunch_ of blog posts for this week, btw.