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Accounting & Accountability

April 27, 2011

No, that’s not the title of my new Regency Period Literary Romance Novel… (nor a mashup updates set in an accounting firm).

You may have noticed today a couple new Writing Projects Progress Update section in my sidebar – some time ago I used one here showing the progress on “PFTETD”.  I’ve gone ahead and added these new ones for the writing projects I’ve started now that class has ended, and you can see two projects: one a short story I’ve started work on, and the other the new novel project (the one I pitched at JordanCon).

I wanted to make myself publicly accountable for my writing goals.  Just the other day, Dear Wife was threatening that she was going to start a “Dear Wife Reports” line of commentary on my blog letting you all know just exactly how much time I’ve actually spent writing.  I told her I supported her in this endeavor.  But then I thought I’d preempt her, here. 

But here’s my problem.  A writing progress bar is really only useful for one thing: accumulated wordcount on a given project.  But, at least logically, only one kind of wordcount counts toward the accumulated goal: actual words written on the story in question.  Except: I do a lot of writing on background notes, character briefs and sketches, and other related notes that will never appear in the final story.  I’ve even been doing this for short stories.  So, a basic and easy-to-read progress bar isn’t a very good tracking mechanism for publicly reporting my writing progress.

So, I’ve noticed some writers report their daily wordcount totals in daily blog posts.  But I don’t update my blog daily – I set total weekly blog content goals, but I haven’t focused on daily blog goals nor any particular schedule – and I don’t think it would be terribly helpful to start throwing up daily posts for the sole purpose of reporting wordcount totals… it would clutter up my blog with posts containing very little meaningful content.

So far, what I’ve done is include an extra line of text below my progress bar indicating actual words written.  But… I feel like that’s perhaps an inelegant approach (not the least of which because it’s harder

So, dear readers, if you publicly report your wordcount totals, how do you do it?  How have other writers you’ve followed done it?  What advice would you give to someone (i.e. me) who was contemplating different methods of reporting their writing progress?

(For the record, I wrote a total of 463 words last night on my short “Story of G” – all background notes on characters.)

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2011 7:24 pm

    I don’t do progress bars because they don’t always show what kind of progress I’m making (nor anything about the quality of said work). I like to do a tally at the end of the day in my journal, with what I did do, whether or not it’s writing. I try to make daily progress in something story related even if it’s just brainstorming through a tricky plot problem.

    That doesn’t help you with the bar question does it? hehe sorry.

    • April 29, 2011 8:52 pm

      That’s kind of my point, though… at least with regards to reporting my progress publicly. A progress bar only relates one kind of progress: actual wordcount on a written draft. It doesn’t capture any of the other work that goes into writing, whether that’s stuff that looks like writing but doesn’t create measureable wordcount (I do a lot of this in writing background notes and character notes that don’t end up directly in the body of the story) or stuff that doesn’t even look like writing, like brainstorming and problem-solving and whatnot. I’m just wondering if there’s some other mechanism folks out there use to publicly report this kind of writing progress… or if no one even tries because of the inherrent difficulties. Thanks. :)

  2. May 17, 2011 5:28 pm

    Okay, I’m super late, but I had to check out this page because of your most recent post. I just had to.

    My response: I agree that it might be good to have some accountability, but like everyone saw in my most recent Blog Serial Fail, I don’t finish projects in a linear fashion…I might set it aside for months, maybe even years, then pick it up later to finish it. So a progress bar/status updater would not only misrepresent my progress on a project, it could also be a tip-off to agents or editors reading my blogs that I’m a chronic procrastinator, or an ADD patient, or least of all a un-see-it-through’er. I will not deny any of these conditions. BUT…I don’t need to flaunt my mad skills of faithfulness at any potential agents.

    All in all, good idea, but not one I’m willing to try… :D

    • May 17, 2011 9:19 pm

      Public accounting of your writing goals and progress isn’t something for everyone, I’m sure. I don’t even know if it something for me, yet. It’s something I want to try. When I first started this blog, I kept a counter and a status block indicating my progress toward my goal of getting a short story submitted for publication… I wasn’t always faithful in updating it, but I do feel like it kept me focused on my goal, even when it slipped past without my completing it by my self-imposed deadline. So, I want to try again and see what happens…

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