Productivity and Expectations

July TotalsWorst. Month. Ever. July’s word count scraped the bottom of the barrel. My productivity hit the lowest monthly number since I started tracking in January. So, naturally, I have beaten myself up over this failure for many a day.

I managed 11,700 words in July. Which is not nothing, by the way. 11,700 words either drafted, revised, or copyedited. Not a terribly small number. Many writers would be proud of that number.


Among all my data, for the month of July sits a big goose egg next to Veritas, my current work in progress. Zero. Nada. Nothing. Not a single word on my WIP. For an entire month.

Veritas Goose EggIt’s killing me.

I went to the Writer’s Coffeehouse in Willow Grove over the weekend, and afterwards got to talking with Marie Lamba. I lamented to her about my lack of productivity, that I had not worked on my WIP all month, and how upset that made me. She said:

“Your problem is that you expected to work on it.”

That stopped me. Because she was right. I knew my writing time would be almost nil. I knew I had other obligations that would take up what writing time I had. I knew I’d have a small shadow pretty much 24/7 for July. And yet I had somehow expected to work on my WIP in some significant manner.

Because I always expect too much from myself.

I always think I can do more in a given time frame than I can. I always think I will have more time than I do. I always think I will have more energy than I have. I always think life will not throw me obstacles the way it does. Always.

In other words, I have unrealistic expectations.

And that will always lead to disappointment.

Now, I don’t mean not to push myself to the fullest or to use this as an excuse to get lazy. Because, yes, I need to up my productivity where I can. But I need to get better at understanding when I actually CAN increase productivity and when I merely BELIEVE I can. Successfully parsing those two will result in a much healthier attitude.

By adjusting my expectations, I hope to gain more contentment in spending time with my daughter, lose the guilt of work left undone, and stop beating myself up so much.

So what about you? Do you lay unrealistic expectations on yourself?




  1. […] my writing in September has been much better than my summer. My worst month of the writing year so far has been July. In July my word count was 11,700. August wasn’t much better at 11,900. […]

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