Monday, October 22, 2007

Keeping track of your progress

I'm late! Sorry! *hangs head*

Ok, for those of you free-spirits who are frightened of plotting, planning or organizing, I wouldn't read this. You may get hives. **Disclaimer: Lisa Pulliam will not be held responsible for any reactions to this post, be they medical, mental, or physical.

Talk on a couple of loops I'm on in preparation for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has centered around spreadsheets for tracking progress. Those of you who ignored my warning, I just heard you faint. I told you this would freak you out! I know not all of us are doing NaNoWriMo, but a spreadsheet may help those of us doing the chapter challenge.

I wanted a spreadsheet that would let me input my daily word count, my deadline, daily word count goal and overall goal length of project. I wanted it to take that information and tell me how many words I need to write today to get on track and if I write at my current pace, when I'll be done.

I googled and found a few spreadsheets that had components I wanted, but none of them had all of the functions I wanted. And I'm not an Excel guru, so I struggled to customize the document to my needs.

Today I hit the NaNoWriMo forums to ask for help and I found one that had most of what I was looking for, at least the hard stuff so I added the rest of what I wanted. So now I have a spreadsheet that lets me do all of what I wanted, plus a neato pie chart that shows me the percentage of what I have done.

For those of you who are skeptical, I've found it rather motivating. I started the count as of today, then put in the words I already have. So I played with it and put in that I only wrote 17 words today. It said I would meet my goal on October 11, 2020. Yikes! When I change it to 100 words a day, it shaves off 10 years and 9 months. Writing 1,000 words/day, I'll be done January 8, 2008. Not bad! See how motivational that can be? Just a couple more paragraphs and you shaves off months, or maybe even years.

Does anyone want a copy of this spreadsheet? Send me an e-mail at lisa (at) lisapulliam (dot) com and I'll send it to you, along with instructions for putting in your info.

What tools do you all use to keep track of your writing, goals or submissions? If you've found anything helpful online, please leave us a link!


Alice Sharpe said...

My method is kind of technical, Lisa, so hold on to your hat.

I have a calendar book. I buy one in Jan. of every year when the calendars go 1/2 price. I always buy the Far Side one. If they ever stop printing this, I will stop writing.

At the end of every day, I write what page I am on and since Eli's challenge began, I also write the day's word count. I know I need 285 pages. I know I need them by Dec 30 but hopefully way before that as the next 285 pages are due sixty days later. Using my mathematically finely toned brain, I do the subtraction. Like this -- I am on page 133. I need 285. That means I have 152 pages yet to write.

I know I am actually going to make it when I go from saying, "Ack, how am I going to fill 152 more pages? to "Ack, how am I going to fit all this book into only 152 pages!"

Your spreadsheets and pie charts etc. make me giggle, but motivation comes from a lot of places for a lot of different people and I am not one to downgrade what another person finds uplifting. Btw, that whole 2020 thing would have me shrieking into the woods, too. That would get me to writing 5,000 words a day. That's how that would be a motivator to me.

And you know what, I just realized I have a pie chart in my mind's eye. I bet if I took a circle and colored in what percentage of this book I have already done, and then someone filled in the data and drew the exact line, I would be within a tiny little bit of it.

That's experience, baby!

1961 words today. I would love to see your spreadsheet so I am going to email you. Your blog was worth waiting for!

Karen Duvall said...

Lisa, I use this to track my progress:

It's pathetically simple, and I change it and paste the html onto my blog every day. You can see what it looks like for my wip here:

I can see how the spreadsheet would be a real motivator. I'm not fond of spreadsheets myself, and that's only because I'm lazy. 8^) Just reaching a daily quota is enough for me. But you go girl! Woo hoo! I'm excited for you. I've noticed this huge burst of energy across the internet for writers everywhere doing these writing challenges: Nanowrimo, Sven's Seventy Days of Sweat, and probably a dozen others I've never heard of. It's very inspirational to witness so much enthusiasm!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

I feel the need to run away. The thought of this much tracking scares the bagezus out of me.

I got the spreadsheet you sent, Lisa, but I need five minutes of quiet (without Gremlin #3 tugging on my arm) to be able to look at it without screaming. I'll do that tonight.

As for how I track...normally I don't. I know what needs to get done and I do it (I'm internally motivated - generally). With the 100-day challenge though, I have a very simple spreadsheet that lists the date, day of challenge, title of book I worte on that day, word count, pages written and what chapter I'm in. I have a running total so it so it sums up the whole thing at the bottom. It is interesting to look back at what I accomplished in the first few weeks of the challenge vs. what I've done lately.

Genene said...

Hey, Lisa!

I'm detail-oriented, but have to admit the "complete in 2020" would cause me to shut down my computer and hide my head in a corner somewhere.

As for NaNoWriMo, I don't understand how anyone can write that many words during the holidays.

But I agree with Alice: if it works for you, go for it!

Unlike Alice's finely tuned mathematical brain :), I have a finely tuned internal guilt mechanism. When I'm not writing or making much progress with writing, the guilt builds up in my body until it explodes in a frenzy of eating, wailing, and falling asleep at the computer to avoid making further progress. Then I can beat myself up for awhile. :)

When I do set goals, it's not usually by word count, but by finishing a scene or revising a chapter. That seems to work better for me than word count.

So write, ladies and gentlemen, write! Hooray for whatever motivates you!

Anonymous said...

Alice-- After reading what you do and trying understand all those numbers and subtraction problems you do to keep track of where you are in your wip, my brain exploded and I no longer have the top of my head. Thanks to you I have no need to ever comb my hair again. You rock!

Lisa, I'm so happy for you that you've found an exciting way to track your progress. You go girl,and leave me out of it. (roflmao)


She who doesn't write enough to do the math.

Danita Cahill said...

I am so not a spreadsheet girl. Sounds kinda nasty. Or maybe not nasty enough...anyway, how I keep track when I'm writing a book is at the bottom of the document I write the date and the word count. Sometimes I add up words at the end of the week too.

So glad you are hyped about your writing again!!

And Eli, is that how you spell begesus? I've often wondered. ha!

Anonymous said...

LOL--Danita, that is not the way to spell it, this is how-- bejesus.

Bejesus can also be spelled - bejeezus.

It is an exclamation traditionally attributed to the Irish, used to express surprise or for emphasis. 'They were forty minutes late, cocky as bejesus.'

Other phrases...

Beat the bejesus out of someone (hit someone very hard, or for a long time)
Scare the bejesus out of someone (frighten someone very much)

So there you have it. I got the information from my dashboard. :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lisa Pulliam said...

Ok, it's official, I'm the crazy one of the group. That's ok, I sort of knew it already. What kind of people like spreadsheets anyway? I'm sick. I need help.