My Timecard

I decided to try this idea this year, and so far it’s working for me.  I need to spend more time each day on my writing career.  Not just the creative end, but the business stuff as well, like agent queries, writing a synopsis for each novel, researching publishers, etc.  I have three complete novels and two that need to be finished, but they will never get published if I’m not diligent.

My timecard is my newest writing tool, something that motivates me to show that I’m taking my writing seriously, putting in time at a job I love.    It’s an Excel file with four columns: date, activity, hours, and totals. 

The activity can be anything from writing a new chapter, editing, agent queries, or submitting a contest entry.  I log in the hours each day, rounded to the nearest quarter, and use the AutoSum feature  to keep a running count of the time spent working each month.  My logic is that more time and effort I put in, the more likely I am to achieve the things I want, like ending up with a book on Barnes & Noble’s shelves (my little fantasy). 

I want to have at least one hour for each day of the year, but you can make your own rules.  I personally take a couple days off each month, because hey, everybody needs a break sometime.  Some people like to write so many words a day, or a set amount of time, etc, but just do whatever works for you.  

I’ve found that simply holding myself accountable keeps me moving.  I’ll set down at the computer hoping to get my 60 minutes, then I’ll look up and find I’ve been clacking along for a couple of hours. 

Distractions, you ask?  Oh, yes, I have a few of those in the form of kids, a husband, a Boston terrier scratching to get in and out of my office, a ringing phone.   No problem.  I have a timer I keep on my desk.  I set it to one hour, then push the pause button each time I’m interrupted, which is at least five time a day. 

As of yesterday, the 21st, I have clocked in fifty hours for the month.  Not bad, huh?  I like being able to look back and see where I spent my time, and this month most of it went for revising a novel and getting a contest entry ready. 

Let me know if this works for y’all, or what you do to keep motivated.  My friend Corra over at  From the Desk of a Writer recently posted  a very cool idea about keeping a blog journal just for that purpose.

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10 comments on “My Timecard

  1. Great idea here, Tina!!

    I’m logging my total daily word count in my blog-within-a-blog as I post, then keeping a cumulative log of writing time as well as word count at the bottom of each post. At the top corner of the writing blog, I keep a running total word count since I started the blog (two days ago), as well as the record word count acheived in a session, and the record longest time spent writing since I started:

    corra’s writing room

    I love that everyone’s challenging themselves this year!! Thanks for sharing your process. A timecard is a smashing idea. I also love that you stop the clock for deviations. 🙂

    ~ Corra

    from the desk of a writer

  2. That’s great. I spend too much time distracting myself from the process of writing but I should knuckle down more. Great job, Tina.

  3. Thanks Anne.
    I have the most problems with giving in to distractions when I’m working on the ‘not so fun’ stuff. Today I absolutely had to force myself to concentrate on working on a stupid synopsis. 🙂 I HATE those things.

    ~ Tina ~

  4. Joy says:

    Like everybody else, I have too much going on, so I don’t spend as much time as I should working on the promotional end of things. Think because I’ve been focused on editing this past week, I’ve let other things slide.

    Great idea to keep yourself on the job.

  5. Excellent idea, Tina. I’ll be watching your progress. Thou shall not cheat 🙂

    • Ha, you know me, huh Bisi?
      The temptation to cheat is what made me decide on time goals instead of word per day. You wouldn’t believe how many times words like really, very, you might say, etc turned up on my NaNo this year. 🙂

  6. Koreen says:

    Tina–

    Great ideas. The time card sounds perfect and I’ll have to look into a time myself, seeing as I have the same sort of distractions.

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