elizabeth in her writing blog, Fog City Writer, passed along this excellent idea: a dedicated journal to note what writing and/or writing business you do every day. A blog post, a query letter sent, two paragraphs on a story, a chapter revised. No comments, no kvetching, just a notation. Sometimes it might be only a brief note that you started editing that article before being interrupted by a bawling baby, or that, standing in the Express Lane while some Cro-magnon unloaded from his cart a month's worth of beer, franks-in-buns and pre-sliced cheese (just three things, see?), you suddenly realized that Billy in your latest narrative needs sagging jeans and a beer gut. Or that you had two hours of writing at the cafe. Hey, sometimes it happens.
This strikes me as infinitely better than those endless scrawled lists that I keep with circles and arrows and a few items blacked out: three blog posts (behind already!); submit, submit, submit; query Heyday Press, STAT! These lists are for the most part wishful thinking (really pure fantasy) about what I think I could and/or should do. They're also a constant set-up for failure because that list is never, ever completed - or if it is, another item pops right up on it. I even know the deal, yet I still feel like I've done squat-all as I add yet another impossible task to the list.
In the world of carrot and stick, this falls under the carrot method; that is, it functions as positive reinforcement. Look, I've done something! it tells you, unlike a list, where the crossed-out items disappear into the background, and you are left with all the things you didn't do staring right back at you.
For most of us with dayjobs, family and the need to walk at least around the block, time to write is limited or even nonexistent on any given day. Knowing that I've done at least something could be the morale booster to carry me through the week, to keep hacking at it until some time does open up. And as Susan Bono (of Tiny Lights fame) said in our conversation last Friday at the Press Table in Volpi's, it could also serve as an encouraging nag: well, have you done anything to note in your Little Red Writing Book?
At least today I can say yes: I wrote this post.
And posted it.