In terms of both my reading and my writing, I think I’ve had my most productive March ever, which means my most productive March on record, said records going back to January 1, 1996. To explain, let me break this into two parts, reading and writing.
The Power of Audio Books
I started reading audio books back in mid-February. I did it primarily as a way to squeeze more reading into my day. I figured I could read while working out, while talking a walk, etc. In other words, I could fill otherwise mindless time multitasking, listening to a book instead of just doing one thing. Maybe this would allow me to read a little bit more.
I am stunned by how well this has worked out. I read 9 books in March, which is a record for me. I went back through my reading list and discovered that on two occasions, I managed to read 8 books in a month. The most recent of these was more than a decade ago, back in 2001. Since then, I haven’t really come close, but never in the 17 years I’ve kept track, have I read 9 books in one month.
7 of the 9 books were audio books, and a couple of them were quite long. In fact, although there are still about 13 hours left in the month, I’ve already listened to more than 113 hours of audio books in March. I’ve averaged more than 3-1/2 hours of reading each day. I’ve been listening to audio books at every free or mindless moment I have. I listen on my daily walks. I listen at lunch. I listen when I walk to pick up the Little Man from school in the evenings. If I have to go to the store (we live right next to a shopping center) I listen while walking to the store and while shopping. I listen before going to sleep at night. It’s rather amazing how much you can read when you can multitask. I even listen to books while doing chores, like cleaning bathrooms or scrubbing floors.
Did my Internet Vacation make a difference? Well, I averaged 3.19 hours of listening each day for the first 16 days of March. During my Internet Vacation, when I wasn’t distracted by things like Facebook, Twitter, or blogging, I managed to average 4.2 hours of listening per day. That’s a difference of more than an hour a day. But listening to books isn’t the whole story.
The (Accidental) Seinfeld Method: Or, Don’t Break the Streak
Despite the fact that I managed to read more books in one month than ever before, my writing took off. A few weeks back, I reported on finally hitting the right “schedule” for writing consistently. For me, that scheduled turned out to be fitting in writing after getting the kids ready for bed and before putting them to bed. Then, once they are asleep, I can continue on further if I feel like it.
As of yesterday, I’ve written fiction for 32 consecutive days, and that includes every day in March, except today (so far–but I’ll be writing as soon as I finish this post). Not even during my multiple NaNoWriMo efforts did I ever write every day of the month. What’s more, I set of goal of 500 words each day. I’ve hit that goal 28 out of 32 days. On my best day, I wrote more than 2,200 words. Indeed, over the 32 consecutive day streak (so far) I’ve averaged 930 words per day. During my Internet Vacation, that average jumps to over 1,100 words per day.
So far, in March, I’ve written more than 28,000 words. I expect that to come close to 30,000 by the end of the day today.
A couple of things about this:
- I am absolutely loving what I am currently writing. There are things I am doing that are deliberately different than what I’ve done in the past.
- It has become kind of like Seinfeld’s method of “don’t break the streak.” I get an email summary of the previous day’s progress each day and one of the things that summary tells me is how many days in a row I’ve written and how many days in a row I’ve hit my goal. It is a way to make me want to avoid breaking the streak.
- I am having fun writing. I am having more fun than I’ve ever had before.
We’ll see if I can keep it going. Right now, I think I can.