Quoth Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”
What did Richard Feynman mean by that? We judge ourselves by our intentions instead of by our actions. It’s kind of a personal “Halo Effect.” So we maintain an inaccurate, but flattering, idea of how we’re doing, unless we act to confront reality.
I mentioned this in a post a couple of weeks back. Several people have asked for more detail on what records to keep. So, Amy, Ken, and Rachel, this is for you and everybody else who was wondering.
Track progress on the project
If you’re like most business book writers you’ll go through three or four full drafts before you pass the book off to the printing process. You need to keep track of where you are in the total process, so you maintain momentum and motivation. If you’re writing a book for a legacy publisher, you also need to make sure you make your deadline.
Use a rough project calendar to keep track of where you are. Stay flexible. Don’t be a slave to the plan. But make sure that you keep moving forward. Keep a record of your work for every writing session.
At the end of every session, record your word count. Decide what kind of words you’re going to measure.
You may choose to measure total words. That’s probably the easiest. But you can also measure something else like, “finished words” or “polished words.”
If you want to go all geeky on this, you can make up a scale and use numbers to track your quality. That works, but I think it’s a bad idea.
I suggest you make notes after each session about the quality of your work. Notes will give you a more nuanced view of your work. You can gain real insight by going back over several sessions and reviewing your quality notes.
You should track both quantity and quality for every session. Otherwise, you risk imbalance. If you measure quantity alone, you’re likely to turn out lots of work that’s not your best. If you use quality alone, you’re likely to produce great work, but not enough of it.
Keep records so you don’t fool yourself.
Track where you are in the project.
Track word count for every session.
Evaluate your quality of work for every session.
You should track both quantity and quality.