Writing tracks

Adam Johnson was at Wright State this week for a reading (he won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for The Orphan Master’s Son) and he talked about how he kept track of his writing habits for years to look for patterns. He noted where he was, the time, what he worked on, how much he generated, how much he kept of that, and any notes like hungover or have the flu. In the end he realized he wrote most often at home but wrote more words when he was at the library. He wrote “cleaner” in the morning but took more risks in his stories when he wrote at night. (I may have those backward, but you get the idea).

I know lots of writers who keep records of how much they write and what they are working on at a given time, but none that are this detailed. I love the idea of looking for patterns not in my writing but in my writing habits. I’ve recognized them on a bigger scale–for instance, don’t ask me to write so much as a grocery list for six months after I’ve had a baby or fallen in love–but hadn’t considered the daily effect of charting to look for small swings based on location, etc. I think I’m going to give it a try. If nothing else, I do love tracking crap like this.

Anyone else paying this close attention, and if so, what have you found?

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