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Tip Tuesday #38

Do you guys remember Ryan? I thought you'd like to know that his hard work and patience paid off. He recently signed with Steven Malk (congrats Ryan!). But, I'm actually bringing him up because he sent in a tip for the week (as much as this is turning into Malk-week, the timing is totally coincidental, I swear). He doesn't have a website or blog up yet, but it's in the works. I'll let you know when we can commence blog-stalking.

Here's his tip:

My biggest motivation in writing is keeping a writing log. I always write down a) date b) chapter c) time spent d) words written e) running total of words in the project. By forcing myself to do so, I frequently push further than I normally would have. I don't so much care about time, but if I've written 850 words, say, I'll want to push it to 1000, and sometimes if I go over that, I'll try to just keep going to 1200 or 1500. One night, I would have stopped at 800, but I pushed further a couple of times until I got to 2000. Beyond the fact that I tend to write more, I also can go back afterward and find out how much time I spent on certain things, what speed I wrote at, and better predict when I'll be done.

Wow, Ryan. You're awesomely organized. I've kept word count logs with dates but never thought to keep track of time spent. I bet that's a great reminder on slow days, knowing how much you can get done in X amount of time. Thanks again for the tip!

Readers: Do you keep a writing log? Consider giving it a try!


  1. I don't keep a writing log but this is a good tip, and congratulations Ryan.

  2. Congrats, Ryan! I like this tip. I can see how it would be really motivating to keep a writing log - I might just have to give it a try.

  3. No, I've never even thought of that! That's a great idea. You could also see times/days that work best for you that way, and of course keep you motivated to do more!

  4. Normally I write whenever I get a chance. But for my newest work in progress I'm blogging about it.

    Ryan, great tip. Thanks!

    Because I feel like if I say it allowed I have a responsibility to finish it. It's also been fun seeing the word count increase. Writing about the problems I'm encountering is pretty interesting too.

    Normally writing is such a lonely process, it's nice to share it with someone.

  5. Ryan - congrats! That's a great tip for when I get back to my current wip.

  6. Thanks for the great tip. And congrats Ryan for getting an agent. That's awesome.

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  8. Thanks everyone! I know if I didn't keep a log, there are so many days I won't write, but now I never want a gap.

  9. I keep a writing log, and like Ryan, it helps push me to keep going, but I haven't included time spent. That's an interesting idea.

  10. Ryan, what a great idea! I keep a fitness journal with my daily workouts and it is an invaluable tool. I look back at previous personal records and it challenges me to set new personal goals. The same could easily apply in writing. Thank you Casey for having Ryan be a part of your wonderful blog!


  11. Great tip. It would be interesting to look back at the log after several months.

  12. Keeping a writing journal helps too. The need to write in it everyday also spurs the need to actually "write."

  13. I totally love this tip. Off to try it! And congrats to Ryan for his success!


  14. To estimate how long I need to finish a manuscript, I use a formula containing the words per average day, amount of working days per week, a substantial buffer for unforeseen events (with two disabled kids this is essential!). Then I double (on difficult projects triple) the time for revision.

    Also, I keep a simple spreadsheet with date planned wordcount and actual wordcount. One field is formated in a big red font, telling me the number of words to go to reach the planned size for the manuscript. It's marvelous to see this number go down every writing day.

  15. Oh yes, I forgot: congratulations on getting a great agent, Ryan. Can't wait to see your website/blog

  16. Congrats, Ryan!

    Funny that so few of you keep track of time spent. To me that's just as, if not more, valuable than words written. Because sometimes I really need to work through a chapter and it will take several hours (or days). And other times I can just jot out a chapter. So for me, keeping track of how much time I put in every day, and setting time goals for myself, ensures that I get the work done. I may not be happy with how much I accomplish in that time, but at least I know my butt has been in the chair.

  17. Congrats to Ryan.

    I don't keep a log. But I do keep track in my mind of how many words I've gotten in that day. And I know how long it takes me type out a page. Somedays are fast and somedays are slow. I allow for that.

  18. This would be a terribly awesome idea if I wasn't so darn lazy.