The Best Time for Writing

tofd-barAs I have mentioned in previous articles (here and here) I wrote a tool that keeps track of how much I write, and when. I’m really bad and developing mechanical habits, so the brilliant part of this tool, for me, is that it does its job without me having to update a spread sheet or remember to count my words and make a record somewhere. It just watches my project directories and makes a note every hour about how much bigger (or smaller) the files have become. Pretty simple.

But I’ve been using that tool for over a year now, and it’s starting to show me some rather surprising facts about my writing habits. For example, I’ve always believed that the mornings were my best time, but as the graph above shows, over the last year, the bulk of my productivity has come between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm. Weird. I still think I’m at my most creative prior to 11, but clearly, I’m not doing a good job of capitalizing on that time.

words1-barOr take this graph, that shows my productivity on each day over the last 15 months. Last August, I went on a retreat and absolutely tore up the keyboard. See that dense, black block in the middle? That was August. But then I returned to my regular life and by October, I was pretty depressed about how little I had carried through on that burst of output. So after some careful deliberation, I made a significant change in my life, in the hopes that it would free up more time for writing. Did it work? It seems pretty clear that it did. In fact, I’ve been more productive as a writer in the five months since I made that change than I had been over the entire two years prior.

So the point of this posting is not to say that measuring your productivity makes you more productive (although it does :-). All I’m saying this time around is that, by having records of your productivity, you can do some interesting reflection on how things are going, and use it to guide effective decisions about your artistic life, without getting too swayed by rose-colored optical wear.

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About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.