How I write do darned fast – Part 5
Yesterday I did a lot of talking about my goals. Remember, these are my goals, not goals I think you should impose on yourself. You need to figure out for yourself how fast you can write and how fast you should write. This is just a step-by-step look at how I do things. That’s all. I wouldn’t hold anyone to the level I write at (except myself that is)
So I set word count goals. I also track those goals to see my progress. What good is setting a goal if you’re not going to check up and see how you’re doing, right? So I’ve got an excel file that I use. You can use the Magic Spreadsheet (I’ve mentioned it before) and many people do. I think that’s great. I built my own because I love to play around in excel.
* NOTE – If you’d like a copy of the spreadsheet I use, feel free to email me and I will send it to you. You can modify it for your own needs, but bear in mind, it’s personalized. So many of the columns I have may not work for you and you may end up spending more time rearranging things when you could have built you own. If you like mine, use it as a guide to build your own.
So on my spreadsheet I track my progress. How many words did I write today. How many words have I written this month, this year, what does it compare to against last year, How far ahead (or behind) my goal am I? How many days did I spend working on a particular title?
As I said, it’s more than just a list of days with numbers next to the day. I also track what title I’m working on that day. I have a column that shows how many words I wrote, how many words I need to write that day to stay on target (for 2014 it’s 1100 words per day). I had have a field that shows how many words I should have written so to-date, and the actual number I’ve written to-date. This is the indicator that helps me understand how close I am to my goal. I like to get ahead in case something happens.
I also track the books I’ve written as well as the books I’d like to write. I track the word count, release dates, where in the process a certain book is. Things like that. I also track my short stories and where those stories are on submission. I have a tracking page for the total word count of all my stories.
Now let me pause here for a minute. Keep in mind that I started this spreadsheet at the end of 2011. I use it every single day. Almost without fail. even on days I didn’t write,I still opened my spreadsheet. But being that it’s been an ongoing, growing spreadsheet, I’ve continued to add to it. So as I felt the need to have additional data, or formatting, or extra pages, I added them. Yes, I understand that all I’m tracking seems a little excessive, but it’s part of the process that keeps me motivated. Keeps me moving forward. I have a lot of ideas, and this is one way I’ve been able to keep track of them all in one central location.
Another thing this spreadsheet does for me is it allows me the ability to inspire myself. When I don’t feel like writing, I can look at this spreadsheet and remember that there’s a lot I’d like to accomplish with my writing and the only way to do that is to keep writing. Write quickly. Finish something. Move on to the next project.
That doesn’t mean I’m just pounding out first draft after first draft. I’m going back, I’m editing, I’m adding covers, I’m doing the interior layouts (covers and layouts I need to do better, but I’m learning). My spreadsheet allows me to track everything I’m doing and see at a glance where any given title is in the process.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I need to add columns to where something is published. I’ll need to make sure all my titles are available on all vendors. See, typing up these posts is helpful.
At any rate, tracking my progress is a way to not just keep myself motivated, but to see where I’ve been. I can see trends and patterns. I can focus on the process with the spreadsheet while my creative side gets to run off and play in all the worlds I create. It gives the logical side of my brain something to do while the creative side is off…creating.
Will this work for you? Again, as I said, this is my process. It works for me. I’m a data guy and I like numbers and spreadsheets. You may be different. Maybe you don’t want to track everything I’m looking at. Maybe you just like to sit down, open word, and got for it. I think that’s awesome. If it works for you, keep on doing it. I’m just offering up my method.
So this will likely end my little series. I’m glad you were here to follow along. I’d love to hear about your process. What works for you? How are we similar? How different is my process than yours? Any feedback? Ideas? Thoughts on improvement? Let me know!
Until Next Time!