Building my Writer’s Habit with the Magic Spreadsheet

Sounds like a crazy title, right? If you’re not interested in writing, you may not be interested in reading this post, but my writing friends may benefit.

I’ve previously shared that I have a dream of publishing a professional book and that I’ve even done some fictional writing that I’d like to get published so I’ve added some writing podcasts to my Morning Professional Development (listening to my iPod while getting ready each morning).  So far, the best podcast I’ve found is I Should Be Writing, by fictional author Mur Lafferty. In one of her podcasts she talked about how the Magic Spreadsheet gave her the motivation to write for 100 days.  I was intrigued and wondered what could possibly be so magical about a spreadsheet?  When I listened to how she and other writers use it, I knew it would totally be the magic I need.

I am the kind of person that likes to see progress in action. I like to mark a star on the calendar when I work out (ok, that was actually pre-ipod times for me), I liked seeing my weight chart go down in my fitness app when I was losing weight, I use the app Simple Goals to tally many of my daily goals, so the Magic Spreadsheet did look magical to me!

The idea of it is just a basic spreadsheet in which you enter the number of words that you write each day, with the goal of writing 250 words.  I have found that 250 words is really quite easy…just a couple of paragraphs in about 15 minutes.  Each day that you write 250 words or more, you get a point, but also an additional point for each consecutive day of writing.  So, on the fist day you get 1 point, second day-2 points, fourth day-4 points and so on. Stop a day of writing and you break the chain having to start with 1 point the day you write again.  The folks in Mur’s writing network have actually gamified this so that they are entering their daily words into a public google spreadsheet and have all kinds of additional bonuses and can “level up” (like increasing their daily 250 word minimum to 400).  I was a little overwhelmed seeing their spreadsheet (and couldn’t even figure out how to join in), but could easily figure out how to download the individual spreadsheet and get started.

It has been a week and I have used the magic to write for 7 consecutive days with a total of 2,787 words.  I was worried that it would be too soon for me to post this, but I have never written for 7 consecutive days so I think I’m in the clear. Within these seven days I had 1 day of the flu  and 2 days that I was so dead tired that I didn’t think I could write 250 words, but did, because I didn’t want to start over with 1 point…and I’m just “competing” with myself!  (Sidenote-This made me wonder if this could be something for students to develop a writers’ habit? We may possibly be 1:1 with iPads next year, so Google Drive will need to add the word count feature to the iPads!)

Do you want to find the Magic Spreadsheet?  Go HERE  for the podcast. The link in the description takes you to their google doc, but the first person’s comment in the post has a link to download the individual spreadsheet.

If you’re a writer in my PLN and know how to turn this Magic Spreadsheet into a public google doc like Mur’s writers did, please let me know, because I would love to do so (just couldn’t figure it out!)

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Matt

    The internet is a weird place–I followed you here from one of @leap36’s re-Tweets & found you talking about my favorite podcasts! 🙂 Although, I think I have to point out that I think you meant that Mighty Mur is a fiction author, not a fictional author.

  2. Kristopher Neidecker

    How is the spreadsheet working for you since you wrote this post? I find the spreadsheet very useful, and like you, it helps me stay on point.

    You should join the public spreadsheet, if you haven’t already. Just find a blank group of 4 rows, fill in your info on the left, and throw your word counts in the white cells. It’s all the more fun when you do it in public!

    Anyway, I linked to this post from my own post on the spreadsheet at my blog, aptly named “The Blaagh”, so people can get multiple viewpoints before diving in.

    Oh, and at the time of this comment, I see you are at 68 out of 280 books in the Goodreads challenge… Wow.

    1. PrincipalJ

      Thanks for checking in. Unless you can count writing end of year teacher evaluations for my word count, I did drop it for a while, but I’m back!
      I would love to get on the public sheet, but for whatever reason can not add anything to it.

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