During my day job, I say I've won the day if I get more stuff off my desk than comes on it. I'm knee deep in the urgent there, hoping to keep the urgent from becoming the fire that consumes my time.
Writing a novel is different. Here, to use Covey's (Check out First Things First if you're looking for a time management book) terms, I'm working more in the important quadrant. It's turtle writing, slow and steady, making sure my weekly word counts are being met or exceeded. It's this pre-planning and driving with a flashlight in the dark that gets me from an idea about a book to a full fledged novel up for sale in your local bookstore. Or with kitten masks on your face.
It's like magic. But not the magic wand kind. Writing a book's a lot like planting a seed. If you walk away and leave it alone, the seed will probably die or be eaten by a crow. However, if you tend the seed. Water it when it needs a drink, clear out the weeds surrounding the tiny sprout, and keep it from being eaten, you might just take your seed to a full grown plant. Then maybe to a producing plant, one that gives you back your rewards.
But the magic isn't in the seed. It's in the work.
Johnny Appleseed taught us a little seed can change the world. But they forgot the most important part of the story, the work that went into making those trees grow.
Currently, I'm starting a new story. Actually a new story in a new series. So my flashlight at times is pretty dim, causing me to slow down and write more carefully. I'm hoping my struggles day to day will combine to be a pretty good book by the time I finish. Editing is the time when the lights are all on and the sun is beating down on your sentence structure. That's when you find the loose threads and tie them into knots.
But I'm not there yet, I'm still in the dark. And I'm hoping the magic really is in the work.
What about you? What measure do you use to define a successful day?