Relearning How to Monitor My Productivity

A month ago, I had grand plans. Changing circumstances were delivering the best of all possible worlds: I’d now have the opportunity to write regularly. What better way to get started, I thought, than to get back in where I left off more than a decade ago, writing short fiction.

Well, so much for that.

Planning scenes and sketching out an outline in Microsoft Excel, with worldbuilding in Obsidian.

My heart’s always been in longer forms, and so it was perhaps inevitable that as I developed my first project it’d end up well into novel territory.

That’s a challenge, of course. After many years of Continuous Deployment in the software industry, my sense of how to monitor my own productivity and progress towards my goals is well and truly broken. Part of me wants to solve that by simplifying the problem down to word count and validating progress based on words per day. And sure, there’s some validity to that, depending on the story or the stage of the project.

But for now, as I scrabble over the next mound of stones and shale and clamber over the day’s tasks involved in climbing this mountain, it’s exciting to take a moment to stop and look at the view. After a month, I might not be able to see the summit, but I can see that I’ve gained altitude, there’s a little bit more of a view; the project is taking shape and things are coming together. There’ll be plenty of time for counting words later.

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.

Vladimir Nabokov
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