In Praise of Spreadsheets

My love for spreadsheets is as bottomless as a pair of chaps. I use them to track everything: word count, books read, books to be written, lists of names & place names, to-do lists, tracking story issues. Oh, the things I track.

Lately, because of Everything™, my word count spreadsheets are not as spectacular as usual. There are daily entries, but the numbers are in the fifties or hundreds rather than the thousands that make me proud. Part of that is because, the state of Everything™ has me culling or deleting more words than I’m adding, and thus I’m struggling for positive word count in every session.

I tell myself  progress is progress and “editing” gets a story just as much closer to being done/good/whatever as piling on a bunch of words, but, you know, a hefty daily word count still feels more glorious.

Here’s where spreadsheets help. I could be organized enough to track deleted or culled words, but hahahaha, no. Acts such as that are not in my wheelhouse during writing sessions. BUT, noting any kind of progress is most definitely something I want to be plopping into my spreadsheets.

And so, and perhaps this borders on doing evil, but I’ve learned to interpret my own data in ways that aid my writing. Yeah, yeah. I know there’s a huge possibility of merely fooling myself with cleverly interpreting data. Believe me, I get yell at myself for anything. But I am slowly learning to find things to praise myself about, writing-wise.

If I can’t feel good about the word count totals, then I can be proud that I wrote every day. If can’t be proud of either of those things, then I can be proud of any progress made on projects that are going rough or have lost some of their shine. Etc, etc. Sometimes, it gets ugly, I have to be proud that I opened up the spreadsheet and took ownership of how little it’s been updated and resolve to do better.

The thing is though, sometimes I don’t have to cleverly interpret. Sometimes the data’s sitting there, waiting for me to notice how good it is. Like, with reading. Boy oh boy, is my concentration easily scattered lately. My dates with books are done chapter by chapter, these days rather than one or two nights of devouring. It is what it is.

When I went to update my Books Read List, I realized I’m on #20 for the year, roughly one a week. Not my normal pace, but way, way better than I thought I was doing. I’m doing what I can, when I can, and right now, with Everything™, that’s good enough.

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