Sunday, October 27, 2013

Time and measurement

Quick aside: We almost didn't notice it, but this week we passed our ninth anniversary of landing in Canada. Nine years! It feels unreal. So much has happened in that time.

Earlier on in the summer, I did a couple of posts about the business side of this tangled mess we call "writing".

I'm a bit of a measurement freak, and I firmly believe that you can't hope to manage something unless you measure it somehow. One thing I want to manage better is time. Your own time is a huge investment. In the writing world, it is probably the biggest single raw resource you consume in producing your finished product.

I can't imagine any serious business surviving without some reasonable understanding of how much time it takes to do things, so I've built this handy little spreadsheet that acts like a stopwatch. Click on the "start" and "stop" buttons and it adds the time into a running total against whichever task I've got selected.

This is my first step to getting a handle on things in a more businesslike way.

What I've learned so far

Since July, with all the demands of Real Life, I've averaged only 45 minutes a day on writing-related activities.

Note that none of this was actual writing. Right now I'm not in writing mode, I'm in between critiquing and revising and I'm including all the multitude of roles that wrap themselves around the writing process.

The lion's share of this effort has been pushing through the critiquing process. Most of the rest was on drafting cover art.

The bad news is that, at 45 minutes a day, getting anything done is a long process.

The good news is that I can better see what needs to be done, and gauge the success of any strategies I come up with for spending more time on writing.


  1. Whether 45 mins a day or 4 hours, the important thing is that you're doing it EVERY day. Or near enough. Consistency, I find, is key with writing. Even a little a day adds up to a lot in just a few short months, if you're chipping away at it virtually every single day.

  2. Interesting that you measured time spent. I usually only measure output for writing. Sometimes, I measure time spent on editing, but mainly I don't. :-D

  3. David, consistency is certainly important. Admittedly it was enough to get me two full novels written, and this insight will hopefully give me some targets for improvement. A part of it (I shamefully admit) is more about motivation than actual time.

    Misha, I also measure output when I'm writing. Having a word goal and charting progress helps keep me moving. Right now I'm more curious to understand some of the other aspects - how long does it take to edit a novel, for example? I have no idea, which makes planning ahead a bit tricky.

  4. Hi Ian .. congratulations on 9 years in Canada ...

    Time is very precious ... cheers Hilary


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