Progress Notes: Staying on the Upside

Progress Notes: Staying on the Upside

Hope you had a good summer. Mine was sprinkled with highlights—much-needed visits from family and friends—while dealing with a few lowlights—a failed generator during two power outages and a wheelchair repair that’s put me in my 14-year-old back-up wheelchair. (At least I have one, right?)

Thankfully, I’ve been healthy and also productive. As you may recall, my goal for the summer was to begin my second book.

  • The topic: Staying On the Upside
  • The format: A daybook of 365 stories that inspire, encourage, comfort, or make you think.
  • The timeframe: A summer of intense writing before I come up for air in September to give you an update.

What have I learned?

Mindset: Your perspective of progress matters.

My target of 365 stories is a BIG number. Tracking progress by percentages overwhelmed me.

It took over a month to hit 37 stories, a mere 10% of my goal. Even when I completed 90 in the second month, I barely reached 25%. However, when I considered that it takes a week for me to complete one Thoughtful Thursday column, the numbers gained value. Those 90 stories became 90 weeks’ worth of work—almost two years’ worth!

So, even though the numbers were the same, somehow that view of progress encouraged me, making me feel more accomplished.

Method: How you handle the work-in-progress can help or hinder effectiveness.

With over 400 published columns to review for stories, I needed a process for review and tracking. I tried topic and theme-based categories (autism, parenting, resilience, etc.), but found it easier to brainstorm relevant stories by season (Winter: Christmas, New Year’s, snow, etc.). When I began using an excel spreadsheet to track each season, and within that, by month, I had a visible index of my stories.

Once again, I discovered that:

Structure gives freedom

Structure gives freedom

Once I had a structure in place, I had the freedom within that structure to experiment; I can track, but also sort and rearrange later by topic or theme.

Momentum: Sometimes the hardest thing is to just keep going.

Anne Lamott’s classic writing advice in her book, “Bird by Bird,” reminded me to zoom in on one story at a time, keeping the 365 number out of my daily thoughts. I also was able to create a feedback loop that helped me set deadlines for submissions to an editor. Although I read her edits, I kept moving forward, adding more stories instead of revising. I didn’t want to get bogged down in the details too soon in the process.

So what does this mean? Will I finish the book sooner? Will it require fewer edits from the publisher?

I have no idea. But for now, at least I’m making progress; I have the mindset, method, and momentum to keep going.

Thanks to those who have sent me story ideas, encouragement, and offered support. I’ve needed every morsel. Keep them coming!

For the record, I’m currently on story number 149. I’ll be reporting back to you no later than December 1 with more progress notes. Comments and questions about this journey are always welcomed!

And on we go…

My best – usually,

Becky  (Nana B)

P.S. Excited to share my fundraiser in honor of my daughter, Madison, for Pathfinders for Autism’s Run Wild for Autism event. For info click HERE.
Pathfinders for Autism’s Run Wild for Autism event

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