Writing Words on Wednesday

I was going to post this on Monday for the Monday’s Muse post, but got busy and didn’t get around to it. Still, I wanted to share this with any who might be interested.

Motivation has been a big issue for me. I want to write, but then I sit down at the laptop and get sidetracked by other things (internet, email, etc.). I’ve tried making word count goals in the past with little success.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem revising a manuscript (for the most part)—that’s not my issue. In fact, I’d rather revise a manuscript than write a new one. So my lack of motivation usually only plays a factor when I’m writing something new.

And it’s frustrating. I plan it out the new novel, make my 3×5 index cards, figure out my characters, research—basically anything and everything other than writing the actual novel. But I should be good to go with all this information at hand, right? It should work that way, but it doesn’t.

Sometimes these novels will get started and never finished. I still love the characters and the story, but something happens that distracts me. Sometimes it’s not knowing exactly where the story is going (if I haven’t plotted it all out or if things changed from the plan as I wrote). Sometimes it’s a new shiny idea that just won’t wait. Of course then something interrupts the new shiny idea and the cycle starts all over again.

Yes, this means I have several story beginnings saved on my laptop. This, my friends is NOT good.

In the past, I loved November because of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo). Even if the rest of the year in writing wasn’t a great one for me, I could always count on November to get me to finish a previously started novel or write an entirely new piece. But last year I didn’t finish a novel. I began one, but that’s as far as it went.

So, I’ve been searching for a new motivational tool to keep me on track and keep me writing. And this week I found just what I was looking for on the Operation Awesome blog!

Here is the post.

It is a Microsoft Excel document that tracks the writing and goals and is full of pure awesome. Why do I think this is better than my previous goal setting and charts? Because this one rocks. First of all, it does all the calculations for me (yeah, I’m mathematically challenged). All I have to do is type in my starting word count and then input the word count for my writing days and it will tell me how many words I’ve written. Then I can take that number and plug it into the chart for the month. I get to see how many words I’ve written for the week and the month, and whether or not I’ve met my goal. I can keep track of more than one book/project on the WIP Word Calculator. And the Stats page shows me a break down of all the data. In the end, I’ll see how many words I’ve written for the year! Awesome.

The other thing about it is that it’s customizable. The amazing Abby Annis—the genius behind the spreadsheet—left a link in the Operation Awesome blog post to show how to customize. With everything else going on in my life, I decided to schedule my writing days as Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I also set my word count goal at a low 500 words per day. Why so low? Sometimes I work on a picture book manuscript. Also, I didn’t want the pressure of starting out with a big number (1000 seems like a lot when I’m staring at it on the page). But another great thing about this is that if I decide to change my goal later, I can—and only for the months I want to change it.

So far, this is working great! And I’m excited about it so I think it will continue to work. It’s true I’ve done a similar thing on paper in the past, but there’s something about having it in the Excel format that is making a difference (well, not having to calculate my daily word count by hand is a plus).

If you’re struggling to stay motivated and you have Excel (I had to install it because when I installed my Office suite I didn’t include it—never used it because it’s intimidating), I highly recommend giving this a try.

Do you have a method to keep you motivated? What is it? How does it work?

Write on.

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About joanstradling

I’m a wife, mother, writer, pet wrangler, crafter, student, and anything else I can fit into my busy schedule. I still hope to ride a dragon, discover a new world by walking through a wardrobe, meet a Hobbit, or any of the other amazing things I read about as a child. In the meantime, I imagine and write about my own incredible worlds and characters–and continue to live vicariously through books.
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