Posted by Derek Chamberlain on Thursday, February 7, 2013 Under: Update

It has been a little over six months since my last post and this is just a quick update on what’s been happening with my writing.

In July I wrote over 60,000 words, almost double my largest count from earlier in the year. Then in August I wrote almost 104,000 words but almost two-thirds of that was research with only 39,000 being new story-text. In September my research total dropped to just over 3,000, from 63,000, but my new story-text total remained fairly steady at 35,000 words. I also wrote over 3,000 words of short reviews for stories posted on YouWriteOn in September. Then in October I only wrote about 25,000 words of new story-text and almost nothing else. This trend continued into November, 8,000 words, and December, 8,000 again.

About mid-way through January of this year, I was reading the blog of I Should Be Writing’s host, Mur Lafferty, over at Murverse, and she talked about the Magic Spreadsheet. I went and checked it out and began to get excited about the idea. When I found myself getting up at one in the morning to get down those 250 words I hadn’t gotten around to during the day, I realised I should start posting my count on the sheet. 

The Magic Spreadsheet is a GoogleDocs spreadsheet created by Tony Pisculli. It encourages people to write every day by setting the minimum daily wordcount at 250 words and awarding points for ‘chains’, long runs of unbroken daily work, with extra points for people who write over the minimum. The only way to get a really high point total is to keep writing that minimum day after day. This was a lot like what I had been doing with my productivity tracking, but on a semi-public forum.  

Once I started posting my word count on the Daily Writing Challenge ‘Magic Spreadsheet’, I found myself motivated to write every day. For the last couple of weeks of January I worked to edit a story I had started in 2012 but that had stalled on me. I wrote character profiles, and reams of notes on the different ideas I had about the story, then I started editing those first scenes. 

Towards the end of January, Tony unveiled the new improved version of the spreadsheet for February which keeps track of more than just our daily wordcount and accumulated points. It also shows, if we want, both our projected wordcount for the story we are working on and how many words remain. 

I pushed hard to finish my editing and (minimalist) plotting before the end of the month so that when February 1st rolled around I was ready to start writing new story-text.

[More on plotting in the next post.]

Since February 1st I’ve written over 10,000 words, almost all of it new story-text on this project, tentatively titled ‘Prentice Oath’. I’ve also written another 4,000 words of notes. 

The best thing about using the Magic Spreadsheet has been that, once I’ve done my word-count, I can go and do other things like read books or write blog posts without feeling guilty about taking time away from my ‘real’ writing. And that means that when it comes time to write I’m usually looking forward to it because I’m fresh and have had time to think about where the story is going and adsorb new ideas, and there’s nothing a writer needs more if they’re going to keep their writing fresh.

So what do you do to keep your writing fresh and to keep you inspired? What keeps your creativity well full?

In : Update 

Tags: writing productivity "magic spreadsheet" "i should be writing" 
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Meet the scribbler

I'm a writer, editor, indie publisher, and dedicated Magic Spreadsheet user. Originally from Adelaide, Australia, I've been living in Japan since 1995. I've had a life-long interest in writing and in speculative fiction. My first book was published in mid-2014.
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