On Setting Up My 2021 Project Log

“I want to actually finish things this year.” This is what I keep telling myself.

My original intention for this post was to talk about my 2021 Project Log, and how it’ll help me track my writing goals. The Project Log, which I started last May, is a word count tracker, writing session log, and rewards system all in one. Every thousand words gained me a point, marked with a sticker! Once I’d racked up enough, I could turn in those points for rewards. Super motivating! Until it wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely delight in awarding myself stickers. At the end of the day, though, I’ve got a big pile of words and no real drive to go back and polish them up into a complete story. I’ve only set myself up to keep adding to that growing (and growing and growing) pile of words. How do I expect to “actually finish things this year” when this is the case?

After years of writing, I’m still stuck in the “just get the words down on the page” mindset. And it’s fine for generating drafts! Getting the words down on the page is important, but so is refining them so that others can actually read them. Ignoring that has me stuck because after writing and writing and writing for years, I don’t have much to show for it.

This is a hurdle I need to get over so I can finish things. I need to allow myself to step back and revise.

I had a whole post ready to go where I described how I set up my Project Log for 2021. There are pictures of my word count calendars and my writing session trackers! I had pictures of last November’s calendar, showing off the 50 stickers I’d earned during NaNoWriMo. I had a picture of this year’s “Drafting Schedule” waiting for me to fill it with monthly projects and word goals. For comparison, I also had a picture of last year’s schedule.

Except I had only assigned actual goals to two months—July for Camp and November for NaNo. Out of the projects assigned to each month, I stuck with them about half the time. Despite the walls of stickers (or more modest lines of them in other months), I didn’t finish anything last year.

This is a reminder to myself to embrace all parts of the writing process, and not just the word generation part. I know I’ve got it in me to whip the work I’ve already done into shape if I allow myself the time and effort to do so.

Am I still going to use my Project Log? Of course! I went to all the trouble of setting it up, so I may as well use it. I still want to put my 2021 project roadmap together. I also want a way to track my progress that won’t restrict my focus to adding more words to the ever growing pile. It’s going to take some tweaks to my current setup.

Good thing I’ve assigned January as my “figure things out” month. I don’t have a clear plan for the year yet, and that’s okay.

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