Saturday, March 23, 2013

Numerical Motivation: Spreadsheet Awesomeness

About a year ago I went back to work full time for the first time in ten years. Between that and the husband and the kids, it's been extremely difficult to make writing a priority. That's not even considering how fried my brain usually is when I get home from work. Weeks have gone by where I haven't written anything. So much guilt. But that's not what this post is about. No one wants to read about that.

This post is about my love for spreadsheets and how they've helped motivate me to write, even when I'm exhausted.

I started with your basic keep-track-of-how-much-I've-written type of spreadsheet. Excel is great for adding things together, but what most people don't know is just how awesome Excel is and how many other amazing things it can do.

And there's a new version out. I'm so jealous of anyone who has it. *drools*

Anyway, since I know what Excel is capable of, I can never have just a basic spreadsheet. I want my spreadsheets to do more for me than just addition and subtraction. And they should look pretty, too. So my basic keep-track-of-how-much-I've-written spreadsheet evolved into a tracking device with colorful rewards for reaching my goals and charts to show me how I'm doing over the year. I even added a WIP calculator.

And I thought I'd share it with all of you. :)

Here's a sample version:

Click on the ... next to March to see the other sheets.

The last three sheets in the workbook have the WIP Calculator, Stats, and Instructions. Don't let the fact that I included instructions scare you off. It's very simple to use. All you have to do is enter your daily goal and then your daily word count each day and the spreadsheet does the rest. :)

I modified my original version to accommodate the following schedules: Weekends Only (2 days per week), Mon-Fri (5 days per week), Mon-Sat (6 days per week), and Sun-Sat (7 days per week). They can be downloaded by clicking the links below. If none of these will work for your schedule, I put together a tutorial to show you how to customize the spreadsheet based on your schedule. That tutorial is up on my personal blog today.

Weekends Only
Monday thru Friday
Monday thru Saturday
Sunday thru Saturday

Please note, you will have to download the spreadsheets and you will probably have to enable editing to use them.

When you click on the links, you will likely get something like this :

Just click OK and then click the appropriate button to open the file.

Internet Explorer:


Chrome automatically downloads the file and displays it in the bottom left corner of your screen. Just click the button and it will open.

Once the file is open, you may need to enable editing. To do this, simply click the yellow Enable Editing button at the top of the spreadsheet. If you don't see this button, you don't need to do anything--you should be good to go.

Don't forget to save your file when you're done. :) Also, Skydrive automatically converts the file to the newest format (xlsx) when uploaded. If you need the 97-2003 format (xls), leave me your email address in the comments and I'll send it directly to you.

And the spreadsheets are all locked to protect the formulas. You'll still be able to enter your daily words and your daily goals with the locks in place.

If you're comfortable with Excel and aren't worried about erasing formulas, you can unlock the pages by going to the Review tab and clicking Unprotect Sheet. They're not password protected. (Pictorial instructions for removing protection are included in the tutorial on my personal blog.)

If you have any questions or if something isn't working correctly, please let me know in comments.

Now go write, so you can get started on filling in those numbers! ;)


Angelica R. Jackson said...

Nice spreadsheet!

I do pay attention to word count (especially since I usually have a total word count in mind for the completed book), but I've found my chapters have settled into 10-page chunks that make them easy to track. And if I have a goal of writing a chapter a week, I'm usually more aware of my progress in the book than if I mark word count.

Abby Annis said...

It's so weird how that happens with chapter lengths. In the first draft of my first novel, all my chapters ended up being right around 15 pages with the final chapters being a little longer. Now that I've learned to write leaner, my chapters have settled around 10 pages. And it's not like I plan the length. That's just where they end up. Something subconcious going on there... ;)

Rosalyn said...

This is a great idea--I could use some structure to help motivate me. Thank you for sharing!

Abby Annis said...

You're welcome! I hope it keeps you motivated! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! It's such a great idea. Could you send me the 97-2003 version? My email is nikki(dot)urang(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks again!

Toni Kerr said...

I love how motivating stats can be! Excel is Excel-lent :-)

Abby Annis said...

They're on their way. :)

Jan Lewis said...

Abby, this is amazing! Would you mind sending me the 97-2003 version as well? janlewis77 [at] gmail [dot] com
Thanks so much!

Abby Annis said...

Sent! :)

justJoan said...

This is one of the most awesome things I've ever seen! I had no idea Excel could do this. Okay, I had no idea Excel could do anything. I find the program intimidating. When I installed MS Office 2007 onto my computer I left Excel out because I had no idea how to use it and figured I didn't need it (we bought the Office suite with Excel because hubby's supervisor sends him Excel spreadsheets and he needs the program to open it).

So now I'm going to have to install Excel because I have to use this!! I'm sure it will be a great motivational tool for me. Thank you so much for sharing this. And I'm heading over to your blog to check out the tutorial. :)

Abby Annis said...

I've lured you over to the dark side. ;) Yes, Excel can be intimidating, but it's an amazing program. So happy you're excited about the spreadsheet. I hope it keeps you motivated. :)

Anonymous said...

Spreadsheets and lists make my world go round. ;) Love, love the post.

Abby Annis said...

Thanks! :)

justJoan said...

So far, so good! I really do think this is going to be a huge help!

Clara Kensie said...

Wow, thank you so much for this! I use Excel spreadsheets all the time for work so I know it must have taken you a long time to make this. It blows my own Excel wordcount tracker away. I'll definitely be using yours from now on. Thank you for sharing it with all of us!

Hermana Tiffany Garner said...

Awesome idea! I'm so looking forward to giving these a go! :D

Abby Annis said...

Yay! :)

Abby Annis said...

You're welcome! :)

Abby Annis said...

Thanks! I hope it's helpful to you. :)

J Lenni Dorner said...

I'd love the xls 2003 version if it isn't to much trouble.
jlennidorner AT gmail