“Book 3” Blog post #5 – Keeping track of it all and staying motivated

Another peak at the process:

Some readers may not know that I (Paul) am an engineer. I spent the final 12 years of my career as a consultant, billing by the hour, so tracking the time I spend on particular projects is a well-engrained habit.

Since I started The Bicycle Waltz while I was still actively consulting, I naturally built spreadsheets to track my time.

The format evolved over time. Here’s what one of those spreadsheets looked like on At’s Amore:

By then, I was logging actual writing time separately from editing time or research time.

But, being an engineer, I wanted to better understand and measure the process. So, I started maintaining spreadsheets to track word counts on a weekly basis.

Here’s what one of those spreadsheets looked like on At’s Amore (prior to chapterization):

This is what happens when you let engineers write books.

Every Sunday (my writing “day off”), I would collect the latest word count data and combine it with my time logs to generate measures like “words per writing hour” and “words per total hour”.

At the time, I was just curious about the process. I soon found, however, that these Sunday “rollups” were very motivating. If I didn’t put in my hour (or more) a day during the week, it would stick out in the rollup like a sore thumb. And seeing the word count grow each week turned out to be highly motivating.

This time, I’m tracking the story development time as well. Seeing my time log grow is helpful, but turning N’s (not ready) into R’s (ready) in the outline is the most satisfying of all!