Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Writing and Productivity

Whether or not a given day of work feels productive is highly subject. Take Tuesday. On Tuesday, I did five loads of laundry, backed up my hard drive, did a major operating system upgrade, wrote two and a half pages of dissertation, and made a new LJ icon. I didn't feel unproductive, but because I'd been half-hoping I could finish editing that entire chapter, despite the fact I accomplished far more than I normally do in a day, it didn't feel entirely productive. I even wrote an above average amount and quality, and still, it didn't meet my higher-than-they-should-have-been expectations, and thus I couldn't check the item off of my to-do list I most wanted to.

From all I've read on the subject, writing two good pages a day is generally a pretty good rate, whether fiction or footnoted. On a bad day, I'll write less. On a good day, I can write two pages in an hour and produce a few more before the day is done. Those days are rare, especially now that I'm in revision and edit mode, expanding and improving on a chapter draft I turned in the better part of a year ago. I've learned a great deal more about the material since submitting the draft, so there's a fair amount of writing involved in this particular bit of revision. That's why it's not just an editorial run through the chapter, and why it keeps taking longer than I want it to. I want it done! I've missed an informal deadline for submitting this chapter, and yet, I've been more productive, in terms of quantity and quality of output, in the past few weeks, working on this same chapter, than I have been in a very, very long time. I'm accomplishing a great deal. i'm just not accomplishing enough. That's part of why I'm struggling to set realistic goals for myself, goals I can accomplish in a day, and, as a consequence, feel well and truly productive at the end of it.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 25th, 2004 10:45 am (UTC)
Re: Productivity
I hear you on this one, it's something I'm battling with too right now.
I look back at the tasks I've done during the day and go 'why did this take a day?' surely it should only take a couple of hours..?
I used to write really quickly, then I learnt how to write _quality_ and I slowed down a lot.

I always remind myself of what an older, sometimes wiser, but definately more experienced person once said to me: 'just keep grinding away at the edges and eventually you'll look back and see how much you've done, even if it doesn't feel like it at the time'.

Mar. 25th, 2004 12:27 pm (UTC)
In the Science Museum's timekeeping section today I saw a reproduction of a Van Eyck painting of St Jerome with a sandglass and a ...oh shoot, I've forgotten what the other item was, but it's one of the things your dissertation deals with! I know because I exclaimed to kadenza that it would be right up your street. Presumably you already know about this painting (or perhaps it's too late for your period of interest?) but in case you don't and it isn't, it's held in Detroit... ummm... the Detroit Institute of Art, perhaps? Some sort of public gallery, anyhow.
Mar. 25th, 2004 04:20 pm (UTC)
When I'm writing, I alternate between periods of furious activity where I can write 15 good pages in a day, and long periods of lethargy which I can only rationalize on the basis that I must be thinking about things and digesting the material I'm writing on.

Oh, while I remember, my offer of a couple of months ago to read over draft or near-final chapters still stands, if you'd like.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )