I thought today I might write about a strategy that has been very beneficial for me in terms of writing, or really, almost any endeavor: the process log. It’s not that far afield from journaling, which I already find so helpful. But a process log is a bit more focused than journaling. I suppose it’s a akin to a daily log that some people keep, which is a record of what they actually accomplished during the day. If I am working on a novel, a process log is where I jot down what I’ve done that day to develop the novel.
Sometimes, I note what is working and/or what isn’t. It’s very metacognitive, I suppose, if you like that kind of word. The process log sometimes works as a self-coaching process, where I unpack what I’m doing, kvetch if needed, and consider possible changes. But my log doesn’t always have to be that elaborate, just a record of what I did, such as “revised chapter 4, brainstormed chapter 5.”
This approach gives me comfort because when I don’t keep some kind of notes (and I don’t always do so), a week later I struggle to recall what, if anything, I actually did because there is not always a direct path between time spent writing and producing a final product. I was writing, I was thinking, I was creating, but more than that I can’t say. The trees get lost in the forest, I suppose.
As I said, I don’t always remember to use a process log, but I’ve always valued it when I do. As I have a bit more time to work this summer, I have several process logs underway, one per project or goal, which, by the way, is another perk of the process log because it helps me get back up to speed when I shift between projects.
As I peek at some fellow writers’ blog posts, I definitely see elements of process logs in those posts, which is probably one of the reasons I so enjoy the blog community. It’s nice to have some company as we coach ourselves along.
3 thoughts on “The process log”
Oh yeah, I think this is why some people enjoy logging their work. I do it for my workouts too, so that when I feel like a useless pile of garbage, I can still look back on these logs and remember that I did try to move the needle. I don’t really log my writing progress, but perhaps I should. Thanks for sharing!
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I’ve done this on and off over the years in a disorganized way, but in the last few months I’ve been dedicating my Friday blog posts to journaling a novel from concept to completion. It has been very interesting to have that record of my thought process and decisions, and I’ve gone back several times to find specific details. It also acts as a useful external motivator. I think it’ll also be interesting to revisit those early entries after the project is done.
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