During NaNoWriMo 2019 I might’ve written a few blog posts about long-term writing, and I might’ve cut one of them in half because it worked way better that way.
If you haven’t already, go read the first part of this post.
Now let me tell you about the Werewolf Excel of Doom, one of the best things that have ever happened to my writing. Up until 2015, the most I did in terms of getting published was to send out the occasional short story (if inspired to write one, at all) to one of our local genre call for submissions, had it occasionally accepted, and that was it. But in 2015, my editor extraordinaire, Mihaela Marija Perković, conspired with my (future) publisher, the inimitable Hangar 7, to get one of my novels published, for the first time, under the sci-fi association SFERA press, and it all went to shit.
Because, cue two years later, I became a published writer. (Some people prefer author. I don’t.) And now I’ve got two more novels to do in the same setting, the bulk of which has already been written (the first sequel has almost been edited, too), and you can’t really wait for NaNo, now can you, when you’ve got writing ‘obligations’ (it still feels weird, even though my editor called them deals recently) throughout the year?
Also, my name is Vesna and I’m a stats junkie.
Good, now that we’ve got this sorted, let me try to explain why watching numbers, for me, is a good thing.
Firstly, I can see the numbers growing, even if I only write a few hundred words on a certain day. I still don’t have enough writing discipline—or habits—to keep a steady amount of words coming every day, and I’m prone to easily get discoured. If my progress is visible, even when it’s slow as frak, I feel better. Progress, progress! (Or = baby steps are still steps.)
Secondly, what other way is there to learn formatting Excel sheets if not through tracking werewolf romance?
Thirdly, it keeps me accountable. Yes, the word’s an odd one, but when you begin your noveling journey as a NaNo writer, it’s hard to go back to going it alone. Nobody will ever see any of my Excel Sheets of Doom—ooops, I might’ve put a part of one right above—but I will know what days I have written, and what days I haven’t. I’ll know, for example, if next year I have to plan around Valentine’s day or the friday I felt too dead to move, even less write, and I might, dunno, compensate in advance. Putting the wordcounts into the spreadsheet makes this writing thing more real for me, too, and at this stage of life—24 years after I’ve started writing, 2,5 years after my first novel was published—it’s a thing I need to feel more often.
Fourtly, it turned out to be a good educational tool! The WEoD pictured above was the sheet for the second part of the werewolves, and I’ve written almost two full books in the meantime this year, after having finished this one. (Sorry, but three books a year—even though none of them are edited fully yet—is quite a huge step for me, I wouldn’t be writing about it otherwise.) Which means I’ve been able to use the lessons from this book on the next two—like the fact that you need to keep your plotting and your actual words of fiction in separate word processor documents, otherwise you end up with losing several thousand words once you get to the cleanup of a certain part of the plot, which is ugly and it hurts. I’ve been trying to track the weekend result, too, but realized that, the way my household lives now, there’s no telling what exciting new festival will arise at the exact same weekend when I tried to plan and prepare for 5k days.
Yeah, I love stats. And I’m in no way saying you need to have anything even remotely similar to this behemoth to work on your writing—most of the time, it’s just another procrastination technique, although a refined one—just that tracking your wordcount is not always a bad thing. Yes, even on the ‘bad’ days. (A bad day is still better than a day of no writing whatsoever, dammit.)
Find your own version of the tracking sheet—writing the final wordcount every day with your trusted pen in your favourite notebook works just as well—and use it to propell the noveling further.
Unless you’re the complete opposite of me and this whole post has filled you with the utmost dread, in which case, ummm, I’m sure you’re completely okay doing your own thing! (And almost nobody—not even me—actually likes Excel spreadsheets, so there’s that…)