How do you catch up? #IWSG

Wow. It’s July already, and it’s the first Wednesday of the month too! I had told myself I’d be done with at least one of my projects by now. But I’m not. In fact, I’m not even close.

I know I’m not the only one who sets big plans and when the time rolls around, finds themselves flailing because they haven’t accomplished all they need to do. But how do you address that? Set smaller goals? Six months to write 30K isn’t that big of a goal. That’s just a little over 1K a week, maybe 300 words per weekday. And… I’m only a fifth of the way to my goal.

Yeah, I’m a bit insecure about that.

But ignoring what I haven’t done… How does one play catch up? I’m going to have to write an aggressive 1010 words a day, if I’m just writing on workdays. I won’t kid myself, my children prevent me from gaining progress when I’m at home. But how do I write faster when I only have my lunch hour to work with?

I’ve bought a few books to try to plan better. I know where I’m going with my story, I just am slow in the delivery. Some of it may have to do with time, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try to improve my pace. Emma Adams suggested 2K to 10K, and M. Pax said she liked Take Off Your Pants! Wish me luck at getting faster, and maybe I might just finish Lust this month. πŸ™‚

Do you have any recommendations for catching up with work? What do you do when you fall behind? Do you have any other suggestions for fast drafting?

About Insecure Writer’s Support Group
You can find the sign up for the IWSG here. We owe Alex J Cavanaugh a huge thank you for thinking this blog hop up.

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

42 thoughts on “How do you catch up? #IWSG

  1. I try to set reasonable goals, but life still gets in the way (work, kids…). My only defense is to make a detailed to-do list and try to get things done/mark them off whenever I have a free moment. If I don’t make a list and stay focused, I find that I waste time because I lack direction.

    As far as getting more writing time, there’s not much you can do besides stay organized and create as many blocks of writing time as you can. You can rush your writing, but then you have to edit more later. The best advice I found, I blogged in a post titled ‘Speed writing – Eleventh hour help for all you Nano people,’ or something like that. LOL

    IWSG #123 until Alex culls the list again.

    • Oooh, actually, I do the bracket thing too. Like from Lust:
      I sank to the carpet and huddled between the bed and wall. [insert fear emotions] I searched the unseen space beneath the bed while keeping my gaze on the door. Where was it? I normally kept itβ€”

      Emotions are tough for me. πŸ™‚

  2. TB Markinson

    For me, I set large goals, but when I don’t make it to the finish line I’m still happy if I made progress. Progress counts!

  3. I honestly believe you train your brain. We’re creatures of routine and the more solid our routine, the more productive we become. You can do it!

  4. How do you catch up? Honestly, you don’t. I’m writing, posting, and tweeting about trying to catch up right now and I’ve given up. I’m focusing on what I can do now and going from there. I really like your idea of setting smaller goals. Once I become overwhelmed, I can’t function. Break it down into manageable sized bites. You’ll do this. πŸ™‚

  5. Every summer I fall behind. And every fall. And sometimes in winter. That gives me the spring to be productive. It’s tough with kids, and mine are pretty well grown. I think the fact that you get a hundred a month in juggling all you do makes you amazing.

    (One way I have found to sneak words in is to write on mu iPhone’s notebook pages. It’s quick to open and I can copy and paste to the doc later. That way, I can add words while waiting in lines or in doc’s offices.)

  6. Emma Adams

    2K-10K is fabulous! It’s totally changed how I plan my books, and I’m much more efficient with my writing time now.

    I’m playing the catch-up game right now because I have a tendency to overestimate how much time I’ll have. Rather than fretting about the stuff I haven’t got done, I’m trying to set goals day-by-day without getting overwhelmed by the big picture.

  7. I always set reasonable goals and write them on my blog. My writing/blogging friends hold me accountable and when I see them making progress it motivates me to make some progress too.

  8. I’m in the same boat. I hadn’t heard of 2k to 10k so I’m going to have to get that, I need all the advice I can get. Already have Take Off Your Pants.
    Good luck and I hope you can get on track!

  9. It takes things like NaNo to force me to write faster. Although I can only type three hundred words and hour, so there’s only so fast I can go. Can you dictate some of your story?

    • I don’t articulate verbally very well. I’d probably have the same sentence about 13 times in a row and then try to figure out what the heck I was writing.

  10. Raquel Byrnes

    I try not to go by word count but by story beats. That way it doesn’t matter the word or page count…did I finish that fight scene? Did I end the conversation well and with propulsion to the next scene? If I make progress in the story then I feel more accomplished. Good luck.

  11. If you come up with a solution for writing faster, let me know. I’ve been writing at a glacial pace. Even slower than usual. Some days I feel like my books will never get written.

    Good luck on upping your pace!

  12. Your insecurity sounds almost exactly like mine. The only way I can think of to write faster is to either sleep less (probably not happening) or spend less time with the family (definitely not happening!) Now that I think about it, do I really need to eat three times a day?????

    Just keep plugging away. It’s what I do.

  13. You’re definitely NOT the only one who falls behind. I’ve been doing abysmally for the past year. Finally, last month, I gave up TV, halved my social media time, and do a lot less promo for my books. Now I’m back on schedule. Sadly,you can’t have everything if you’re a slow writer (like Madam Tortoise over here). Good luck finding a way to get the output up! πŸ™‚

  14. I always feel like I’m behind the eight-ball. I’m with Melissa about the to-do list. It’s the only way I accomplish anything, and it helps me make the most efficient use of my time. Thanks for the two book suggestions. I’ll check them out. Good luck!

  15. I’ve never been one to track my word counts. When I’m writing and in the mode, I just try to get as much on paper until my brain fries. Sometimes I think we get so focused on word counts that we forget what it’s really about. You know where your story is going and that’s half the battle right there! Cut yourself some slackβ€”you have small children! The writing will be there. Don’t forget that your kids are only little once. (I’m saying this more for myself than anyone else, I think. πŸ™‚ ) And even if you’re only writing a little, that’s better than nothing!

  16. You know, I hear so many people saying this – they set these goals, they can’t reach them , they feel angry and frustrated. I’m not sure if the solution is setting more attainable goals, or not beating yourself up for not reaching them. It’s probably a combination of both.

    Yeah, I know. Not so helpful. I’d say be proud of what you’ve managed to do, and find concrete ways to increase your production, even just a little bit. You might not hit your goals, but you’ll be producing, and that’s awesome.

  17. Are you getting caught up in how good the words are? When I keep reading over what I’ve already written before finishing, my writing suffers. I only allow myself to read the last paragraph or two to get back into the story. Then give myself permission to write crap. That really helps the words to flow. I did a 10K day once and it wasn’t that bad.

    Just don’t read it until you finish. πŸ™‚ Good luck!

  18. Outlining the scene with purpose ahead of time is helpful. Not letting myself on the internet until I’ve written 1K is another way to do it.

  19. I just pick up right where I left off. Honest to God. And I don’t kick myself about it either. So you fell off the wagon for a few weeks? So what? You can start fresh again now πŸ˜‰

    As far as fast drafting, you just have to make the time, I think. Can you schedule “mommy’s special hour” where you get a solid block to yourself for writing each night? I don’t know. But don’t get down on yourself. You’re still working and that’s the most important thing. πŸ™‚

    • Unfortunately, I’m not willing to use time when my family is around and awake. My co-worker calls it Mommy-guilt. I just have to do all I can while they’re asleep or I’m at work. *yawn* That does leave me a bit sleep deprived though…

  20. IN answer to your question, you don’t ever catch up. At least I never seem to. I’m still working on things from 30 or 40 years ago. It seems like everything keeps piling up and I never really catch up.

    Tossing It Out

  21. I wish I had an answer for you. I really do, because I’m having the exact same issues.

    Just plug away at it, and accept that life doesn’t always turn out the way that we plan. My father-in-law calls it “digging a swimming pool.” It comes from when he was working on his heavy equipment licence. The day he took his test with the excavator, it was pouring rain. He was supposed to dig out a basement as part of the exam, but it was raining so hard it just kept filling up with mud and water. He got frustrated, so the examiner told him to just pretend he was digging a swimming pool instead.

    Sometimes life is just endlessly digging a swimming pool. Just go with it.

    Stories I Found in the Closet: IWSG Wednesday

  22. I seriously never make a word amount goal. Instead, I focus on scenes or chapters and then I’m not constantly checking numbers. I can finish a first draft pretty quickly that way:)

  23. Technically I’m off my goals too, but my main goals are “by the end of the year”. So, I’m trying to play catch up too. Life sometimes doesn’t really care about our goals which is starting to irritate me!

  24. I don’t like setting daily word goals because I feel that it puts too much stress and pressure on me so I end up not writing at all. I only set yearly goals and if I don’t finish by the end of the year, I tack on 2-3 months and usually reach my writing goal by then.

  25. I set smaller goals, although I know there are things hidden away that have to be caught up on and rewritten. Do a few marathons, like NaNoWriMo, but they tend to leave me burnt out. So those challenges are only good in small doses, but in excess counter-productive.

  26. I don’t think you can catch up. Just go back to the drawing board and adjust the goals. Set new ones.

  27. It’s tough to fall behind . . . and I’m with you right now. One project is on track (mostly), but the other (we will not speak it’s name) is not. πŸ™‚
    I go with two different options when I fall behind. 1. I re-set my goals entirely. 2. I go into writing boot camp mode, write in word sprints, and write sticky notes and tag them to my pc to remind me of what I’m writing next (this helps when I sit down at the beginning of a writing session so I don’t just stare at the screen of words already written and wonder where I’m at). For the sticky note one, I finish a writing session and write a few brief notes about what I want to accomplish in the next scene, and then I walk away – knowing that I can come back for the next sprint session ready to go. It decreases my directional doubts and keeps my momentum going.
    Not sure if any of that helps.
    Best wishes on your WIP!

  28. I totally recommend that 2K-10K book, and I really enjoy Rachel’s blog, too. πŸ™‚

  29. *sighs* I almost always fall behind, but I like to think that’s because I make big plans. Sometimes we have to re-evaluate things. Maybe instead of thinking of how many words you need to get a day/week/month, think of how much time you need to devote to writing. Start small and build up. Thinking in time spent instead of words might help to get more actual wordage down.

  30. I have no advice for fast drafting as I probably deserve a reward for slowest drafter ever πŸ˜‰ When I’m on the ball and stick to a set time each day to do my writing is when it gets done. Otherwise, I tell myself I’ll write, but then it never happens.

  31. Something always seems to come up to prevent me from getting done what I want to get done. I wish I knew the secret to fast drafting. πŸ™‚

  32. I’m not sure I’ll ever go faster. For me that’s counter-productive.

  33. Can only do what you can do. My way though is to stay far far ahead at my zoo. Done blogs for every day of the year, 3 novels finished, 6 kids books done, another book that is umm out there and another project too. Now I can do nothing at all if I like, getting ahead is worth it.

  34. Hi, Loni,

    I think once you are REALLY into to it, KEEP GOING. Try not to look at the clock or your cell. Just write. Then when there’s a real lull, move onto you next task. The old adage, “Strike while the iron is hot.”

    That’s what I do and it works for me. Another suggestion is perhaps approach a CP or blogger friend in the same situation and do a “contest.” See who can reach their goal first and the loser sends a Starbucks or Amazon gift card. There is nothing like a CONTEST to give one motivation.

    I hope that helps and GOOD LUCK with your goal. You’ll get there!

  35. I hate to say it, but… I’ve never had this issue because I tend to write really fast. I don’t even try to. I just sit down with my usual goal for the night, and pretty much always keep writing after I’ve hit that goal, to finish a scene or reach a good place to stop. Sorry I’m of no help on this. >_< It doesn't hurt that I don't have anything going on that keeps me from writing, though.

  36. same boat, I go through bouts where I just can’t do much and then I’ll have these huge spurts so it always evens out in the wash πŸ™‚ lately I’m doing okay but not on the track I initially set for myself! My new hope is to have this MS done by the end of the month…I think I worked out most things so we shall see. fingers crossed for both of us! xoxo

  37. I write wherever I can. I just drafted an entire novel on my Alphasmart. It was complete word vomit, but it was nice to work on a lightweight word processor I can take to the sofa or dining table or wherever, without distractions from the internet. I’ll also unplug, my laptop and do the same when I’m revising and editing, taking it where I’m comfortable and without distractions. Working here and there when I can really makes a difference.

  38. Have you tried Dragon Naturally Speaking? You talk and the words appear on the screen. I love using mine. I believe the software is around $100.

  39. Don’t take my advice. Whenever I’m behind, I stay up all night. Can you say zombie Carrie?

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