Sunday, July 13, 2014

Teachers Write - Weekly Reflection #2

Welcome back! I hope you had a great first week with Teachers Write! It feels awesome to be part of Teachers Write conversations again and to see all the posts and comments about writing. I love this fabulous community. Last week I had so many comments on my first Sunday Check-In post and I wasn't able to respond to everyone. I tried to respond to many of the comments but it was hard to keep up! Please know that if I didn't respond to you, I am still so honored that you are visiting my blog and sharing and that I love that you are participating in Teachers Write. Thank you all for joining on the conversation and supporting each other! Hugs to all!

Now on to week 2! Let's think about how we might track our progress towards our goals. This implies, first of all, that we have goals but also that we have a way to celebrate them and recognize once we've met, and how to assess and adjust our goals if we don't meet them. 
I have little tiny ways to celebrate and some big ways to celebrate. Last August, I wrote a post about a writing habit I developed. I put myself in a writing frame of mind, tell myself I can do it - that I can tackle the blank page in front of me - and then when I'm done, I do a word count and celebrate and tell myself I proved that I am a writer. The inspiration for this came from two inspirational cards I picked out at the Choice Literacy retreat last year with Brenda Power. 
I've modified this habit recently by adding in a time element. When I work on revisions, it helps me to think about my goal in terms of minutes per day. If I commit to 25 minutes everyday, then I know I'll get something done and I stay close to the writing I'm doing. AND, it forces me to write through tough spots I might otherwise avoid. I know if I sit down and set my phone timer for 25 minutes, I'll get something accomplished and that feels awesome. On super great writing days, I take a 5 minute break and then set my timer for another 25 minutes. By repeating this process, I've gotten in hours of writing in one day even but minimally, I get those 25 minutes in and that counts.

The two ways I have found to measure writing progress is either by looking at words written or time written. I would love to hear if you have other ways that you use to measure your progress - maybe by pages written, blog posts written? Please share! I also keep little tallies for myself on a Google Spreadsheet or a sticky note so I have a visual image of what I've accomplished.

For me, when I draft, I know that I need to add to the words to the page so focusing in on word count is the best way to set goals and work towards them. When I revise, it was hard to look at and measure word count as progress because sometimes I would get through a lot of words and other times I would cut words and have a negative number. In revision mode, I like to focus on a minutes per day goal, usually with 25 minutes as my minimum. 

I celebrate by mentally telling myself I did a good job but when I feel like I hit a major accomplishment like finishing a first draft or making it all the way through a round of revision, I have to tell everyone I know. 

One more thing about tracking progress towards does help if you make the time to write so you can meet those goals. Cynthia Lord shared a guest post about making time to write on Kate's blog and Kate has blogged about making time to write herself as well. Notice that's it's about making the time and not finding the time.

So think about what works for you, how do you track your progress? Are you in a word count mode or a time/minutes logged mode this summer...or some other kind of progress tracking mode?

My Teachers Write Weekly Recap:
Last week was crazy with nErDcamp in Michigan and then entertaining my two nephews who were in town from Wisconsin. We spent all day Friday traveling to local 7-Elevens for free Slurpie day...and that was just one adventure!
In terms of writing, I did get a few quick writes in and then I officially started in on my first draft. As of today, I have 2,000 words done! I didn't meet my goal of getting 25 minutes in a day but I think it was the travel and busy-ness of being away from a routine that made it difficult. Because I've been in revision-mode for so long, I'm sticking to my 25 minutes a day but I'm also hoping to get about 1,000 words in everyday. That would put me at 9,000 words by next Sunday. We'll see!

A reminder of my rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments section:
How do you track your progress? What kind of goal works for you?
How do you celebrate your progress?
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the non-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

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