The Progress Journal

Have you ever been so consumed by a project that you can’t stop yourself from writing? It’s one of the greatest feelings a writer can have, knowing that you’re tapping into your potential and expressing yourself in the fullest. It mostly happens when you’ve found something you’re passionate about and it’s so important that you need to get it all out of your head and all on the page or it’ll keep you up at night.

medium_Writers_Block_ComicThen comes the point where the dreaded Writer’s Block stumps your motivation and creativity. It happens to the best of us. We all lose steam and start slowing down how many words we can write in a minute, and even drop in our daily word count goals. (If you don’t already have a word count goal, you should, and I’ll make a case for its importance in a later post.)

Following in one of the principles taught in The Free Fall Journal, the Progress Journal is the same in that you set a timer for 10-30 minutes and write as much as you can without stopping until the timer is up. The vast difference is a Progress Journal is project specific. So that means focusing on nothing but the project you’re stuck on and why.

If it has been days since you wrote a single word, or you pre-emptively feel a slow down coming on, set 10-30 minutes for free writing about your current project. Even if the first sentence consists of, “I don’t want to write,I don’t want to write, I don’t want to write…” Of course you do, you just need to take the time to explore why you’re not writing.

The purpose of this exercise is to get you into the groove of writing so that when you open up your project, you’ll feel more confident in continuing it. It has been my experience that thanks to keeping a Progress Journal, I have accomplished the following:

  • Planned the next chapter when I thought I had no idea what had to happen next or why
  • Discovered the intellectual or emotional reasons why I didn’t want to continue
  • Got back on track after a TWO MONTH long break from writing
  • Doubled and sometimes tripled my daily word count
  • Considered more plot points and character developments for later

I would suggest that the longer the break you’ve taken, or the more doubt you feel, the longer you should set the timer. It doesn’t have to be a full 30 minutes, but set the timer to 30 minutes and keep writing until you feel compelled to hop right onto your project. If you don’t, that’s okay too because as long as you’ve actually written about your project–making plans and obtaining insights on it–you’ll always have the Progress Journal entry to keep vibing off of until you are compelled to continue.

Even if you’re already writing everyday, a 10 minute Progress Journal entry is a sure way to connect with yourself and your project, keeping Writer’s Block at bay for yet another day.

Real Life Application and the Importance of This Exercise:

Keeping a Progress Journal is not exclusive to writing. You can still make one based on any other creative endeavours you have going on like a work or school project. It will help you get your bearings on what you need to do and how to approach it. Even at the personal level, you can use a Progress Journal to keep track on the habits and thought processes that permeate your daily life. What gets tracked can be observed, and having a Progress Journal to refer to can help you determine where you’ve been stuck before and help you avoid similar mistakes by recognizing how you got past hurdles before.

Do you have other motivation maintaining tips? Feel free to comment below and share the energy!

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