science fiction and fantasy author

Blowing away the dust, aka the magic spreadsheet is kind of awesome

Today I had a migraine.

Today I also went swimming.  Today I am also on the (hopefully) tail end of a respiratory infection.  Today I also went to the movies (though that was somewhat stymied by the fact that the cinema basically broke midway through the movie, resulting in many, many refunds and movie vouchers given out to patrons).

Today, I also wrote just over 1,000 words.

I’ve been frustrated at my general slowness as a writer a lot of late (and for “as late”, you can read too damn long – as anyone who gets to hear about me talking about writing will no doubt attest.  I actually don’t have a problem getting words down, but one of the peculiarities of my process is that I find it very difficult to move forward with a story or novel if I know there are things that I need to fix in stuff I’ve already written.  I don’t actually have a problem with doing that, but it makes me much slower that I’d like to be.

The solution of course is that I just need to be generating new words on a project.  I’ve tried doing a basic don’t break the chain thing, but for some reason that never gelled with me.  I think the reason there is that I’d set a target – say 1,000 words – and then get frustrated at the odd day where I was too sick or busy to make that target, so breaking the chain.

I’ve been listening to Mur Lafferty’s podcast I Should Be Writing for a long time.  Like, I’ve actually invested many hours while walking listening to the podcast from the very beginning.  I recommend it highly to all writers – both newbies and old hands.

One of the things that Mur’s talked about for a long time about being key to her productivity is the Magic Spreadsheet (link to the google group and shared spreadsheet in there, as well as link to the podcast talking about it).  I’d kind of shrugged it off for ages, thinking it was just another don’t break the chain thing.

Then, exactly two weeks ago, I thought, I might as well give it a go. It’s pretty simple – you write at least 250 words a day, and you get points for word counts and consistency.

I’ve written every day for the last 14 days.  I’ve written just over 30k in that time.  Weekdays, I’m trying to reach 2.5k, dropping back to 1k for the weekends, but just knowing that I’ll still get points if I write just 250 words is kind of awesome.

I’m also making a concerted effort to work on just one project – at the moment, it’s the first draft of Never, after which I’m going to spend a little time working on some short stories and maybe some outlining.  If I can keep working this way, I’m going to actually be able to finish this draft in a timely manner.

I’m kind of feeling like I’m levelling up as a writer right now, and it’s kind of awesome.



AWW2014: The Secret River, by Kate Grenville


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1 Comment

  1. Hi Stephanie,
    Congrats on your new publication. And, I too, am in LOVE with the Magic Spreadsheet (I’m number #181 on the same sheet as you are on). I started on my birthday, June 4th and haven’t quit. I also wrote about it on my blog. It’s a great tool. And, congrats on getting 30K words done. Keep going!

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