I will be sharing these techniques on the blog over the next few weeks. Today I want to share the first technique that really helped me - visualizing the entire project on one page, and seeing at a glance where I was.
I was keeping tabs on how much I had progressed on the book, but it was difficult to get an overview of the whole project at one time - which added to the feeling that I wasn't really making any progress at all.
I therefore made a simple chart on one-side of A4, breaking the paper into columns for the different chapters. Within the column for each chapter, I listed the sections within each chapter. I also made a list of steps - you can think of them as stages - that each section had to go through. I marked the number corresponding to the step (each step had its own color) under the appropriate section.
The steps (or stages) were chronological - writing a complete rough draft, then putting that rough draft into order, then going through the draft to see what's missing and add in. The next steps were line editing, fixing the footnotes and proofreading. There were 6 major steps.
The colors made the map more interesting, and it was satisfying to add in a number for each step that I completed. When I got stuck on one chapter, the map reminded me that it was easy to simply jump into another chapter or section. I actually finished all the steps on some chapters, while still stuck in earlier stages in others.
While this map alone didn't help me to finish the book, it helped me to keep track of my progress quite easily, and subtly motivated me to work faster so I could fill more of it in. It became like a game, and I wanted to go up levels. It may seem juvenile, but like Julia Cameron says, the part of ourselves that creates is like a child, and anything that can help to motivate our inner creative child to work, especially when faced with a fast approaching deadline and piling up workload, is a useful trick.
Let me know if you have used similar approaches before, or if you use a variation of this map in your work - I would love to hear if this works for others too.