Thursday, July 8, 2010


 By Ruby Johnson

 Were you one of the millions of people who made a New Year's resolution in January? Was your goal to complete a novel by the end of 2010? How's that working out for you? Is your novel still a dream? Because that's what it will always be unless you start.

It’s July, and January is a long time behind you. There are twenty-five weeks left in 2010.

What if you just had 175 tomorrows left to live? What would you do? If you have 175 tomorrows, that’s 24 hours today and 4200 hours of tomorrows. If you plan to work at another job, that’s 1500 hours including commute time, and 1400 hours of sleep. Okay, you’re down to 1300 hours for home, children, self. If your children are young, there’s homework, meals, baths, bedtime stories by 7-8pm, and a committed time of 3-4 hours, so 750 hours. Now you’re down to 550 hours which leaves you 69 eight hour days to accomplish your goal of writing. So if you write 4.5 pages a day for 69 days you will have your 300 page book by the end of 2010.

So are you ready to commit yourself to think in a new direction? Everyone has 24 hours. It’s just that some of us use those hours more efficiently than others. In order to achieve your goal there are some things you can do.

• The goal must be written down and must be meaningful and specific.

• The goal must have an ending time.

• Obstacles to obtaining the goal must be identified.

• A plan must be executed to overcome obstacles.

• Write down the list of people, organizations, and tools that can help you obtain the goal.

• Write down a plan of action to obtain results.

• Write down the things that will benefit you if you obtain the goal.

The PERT CHART is a useful tool to show you how much progress you’re making toward your goal. The example shown is for seven months.

 The Program (or Project) Evaluation and Review Technique, commonly abbreviated PERT, is a model designed to analyze and represent the tasks involved in completing a given project. It is commonly used in conjunction with the critical path method or CPM.

It is a tool used in business and I frequently used it as a manager in the health care field for projects. I was exposed to this method by a vice-president who was retired from the Navy. In fact, this is one of the first places it was used.

The whole idea is you have a stated start date and end date for a project with critical points and dates along the way. It is written in diagram type fashion and gives a very clear picture of where you are on a project. You start with the beginning date, then list the activities that you need to have done before the end date. Then you place them on the diagram with a specific date by each one. If you run into an obstacle then you have to double up your time and effort to make the next date on time.

This gives you clarity and the ability to boil down your tasks and timeline. It also gives you a visual method to follow your progress. You’re able to react to unexpected changes and recover from setbacks. By visualizing all the pieces of your project it helps in your accountability in documenting outcomes which is crucial to success.

What tools do you use to help you write a book? Leave a comment and win a chance at a Starbucks gift certificate.


Anonymous said...

Interesting concept on finding time to write and keeping track of your writing progress.Do you do all of this after you've developed your story structure and just want to keep track of the words on your paper?

Ruby Johnson said...

Hi D"Anne:
What I do is complete the character charts, a basic plot similar to Mernits seven beats, and then track the turning points. For instance, turning point #3 is in act 2 and is 50% of the way through or page 150.Each has a date, so page 150 would be the half way mark and would be dated for that time. Hope this helps.

Julie Robinson said...

Hi Ruby,
I came to check out your post on PERT, as was recommended by Sally on RU. Your first paragraph hit me hard. That's exactly it! You would think as writers that we would write down our goals. I do write down my daily list of things to do, but not monthly or yearly/long-term goals and identifying and preparing for hinderances along the way. Thanks for the explanation.

Ruby Johnson said...

Hi Julie:
Thanks for stopping by. We all have to do what works for us. I get a lot of personal satisfaction when I can meet a goal. That old WIIFM (What's in it for me) kicks in.
Good luck on your writing.

Link Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...