After my first NaNoWriMo, and experiencing first-hand how motivating it was to see my daily progress, I was desperate to find a good way to keep track of my writing once November was over. First, I printed a calendar and kept track through that, but I soon forgot to write down my word count, especially on those nights I stayed up late, had to walk over to my bookcase, grab the calendar…
Once I realised an actual calendar wasn’t working for me, I tried to create my own Excel sheet, and while I was trying to get those formulas right (Excel isn’t really my forte), John Robin, the author of the Your Daily Journal: 100 Day Starter, mentioned his Awesome Daily Writers Spreadsheet in our NaNoWriMo accountability group, and did I want to join that perhaps? I’ll admit I still don’t understand the way the Spreadsheet keeps score, but I always add my word count at the end of a writing session now! I do still struggle with writing every day, which you will see if you join us, and which John never fails to remind me of 😉
Awesome Daily Writers Spreadsheet
Welcome back, John! Tell us, what is the Awesome Daily Writers Spreadsheet?
The Awesome Daily Writers Spreadsheet is an alternative to NaNoWriMo for writers who want to write a bit every day and not stress over word count. It helps writers see the big picture and seed a habit that defines a career, not just get through a novel.
In a D&D-style scoring system, you’re rewarded experience points based on what you write each day, which add up to raise your level over time. You can see what other writers on the sheet are doing, which often gives you that added motivation to spend more time writing than you’d otherwise think to.
How is the Awesome Daily Writers Spreadsheet different from everything else out there?
Most competitive spreadsheets involve minimum word counts. For example, the Magic Spreadsheet requires a minimum quota of 250 words / day, which increases every time you ‘level up’ (inevitable as you keep writing). In many writers, this creates a sense of guilt or competitiveness that throws the whole balance of life out of whack.
The goal of the Awesome Daily Writers Spreadsheet is to motivate writers to write every day, dropping the word count push. It even has an option for writers to focus only on time (in 20-minute sprints). I use this option, in fact, as I prefer to focus on solid time on my writing skill and not get caught up in word count. You can also make a brief note each day to mark your milestones, i.e. CH 1, CH 2, etc., so that over time, when you look back on previous month sheets, you can see how you flowed through the important beats of the drafts or projects you’ve worked on.
Why did you create the Awesome Daily Writers Spreadsheet?
Originally I wanted a way to track my progress over time. I was aware of the Magic Spreadsheet, after trying out a variation of it by fellow writer Elan Samuel. The pattern I noticed on this: insane pushes on writing, followed by long crashes.
I wanted something that would allow me to pace myself and assign reward just for showing up and committing to my craft. I discovered the value of writing every day, even if it’s literally only for 10 minutes (a ‘half-sprint’), as I’ve found that over time:
1) I’m writing every day and my mind stays immersed in whatever stories/projects I’m working on.
2) Because I’m poised to write at some point every day, I’m poised to have those great, great days where I’ll occasionally write for hours. (In general, I write for a lot more than 10 minutes!)
3) This all adds up and makes me feel like an awesome writer.
I created the spreadsheet because I wanted not only to track myself, but to share that same spirit with other writers so we can all celebrate committing daily to our writing habit.
Who will benefit from the Awesome Daily Writers Spreadsheet?
Any writer who has enough clarity in their process to benefit from writing daily can benefit from this spreadsheet. Some writers are not in a position where they can write every day. Nor are all writers motivated the same. Some writers love NaNoWriMo because it’s a time of the year to turn off life and anything not writing, and write, write, write—then to be able to forget about it. That’s totally OK.
This spreadsheet though is for the writers who want the steady investment in their writing craft over time. It’s especially helpful if you have multiple facets, i.e. writing new book A, revising book B, tackling copywriting and ghostwriting projects, blog posts, etc. If you have enough clarity in your writing path to want to hold yourself accountable and make sure you commit to writing every day, then to track your progress over time so you can set larger goals, then this is for you.
There’s great value in this, for me and from what I hear from those using it: you get a sense of looking at your writing self in the mirror and seeing how you’re actually doing, but also alongside other writers who are doing the same. I often get inspired by writers who hit an awesome word count best in the sheet, or seeing what other people are working on. It creates a sense of community around what could otherwise be quite an isolating activity.
That sounds absolutely wonderful! How can people join?
At present, the spreadsheet is invite-only. If you’re reading this post and you are excited about this, then just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about why you’re interested in it. I like to get to know the writers who join a bit first before they join, so that we’ll all remain a tight-knit community. I also want to make sure this is for you as it does take me a bit of time to manage each writer when I make the new sheet for each next month, so I want to be sure it’s something you’ll make use of.
We also have a private chat group on the Slack app, so if you join, you’ll get a chance to meet the other writers and have discussions more in ‘live time’ beyond the sheet itself. Slack is great because it lets you split discussions into channels based on topic, and just like any chat app (i.e. Facebook Messenger) you can scroll back to catch up on discussion if you’ve missed something. I’m hoping that as people join, we’ll make use of the ‘sprints’ channel, where any writer looking for motivation on a given day can say, ‘Hey, I’m about to write. Anyone writing?’ Then anyone who happens to also be writing can jump in. Sometimes, it gives you that push to write for the 20 minutes that you need to get in just a little for the day. And that’s what makes this all awesome!
Please remind us, what is the best writing advice you were ever given again?
Stephen King’s advice in On Writing: to be a good writer, you should read a lot, and that you should write a lot. Regarding the Awesome Daily Writer Spreadsheet, it’s the ‘write a lot’ advice I’d like to dote on. It was in early 2017 that I first took this advice and picked up a (yet unbroken) habit of writing daily. Well, okay, maybe I’ve missed about 3 or 4 days in the last 15 months, but the overall idea of committing to writing every day as a core baseline of the practice required to be a good writer has carried me forward. I’d credit this advice even for the creation of the spreadsheet (though that one is ultimately a fusion of this as well as my love of journaling and tracking milestones of growth).
After working for many years in academia and adult education, John left his job to pursue his dreams as a writer. Having cut his teeth as an editor at a small publishing company, John decided that, while he worked hard to prepare his debut novel, he would build a book production business to help connect self-publishing authors with editing, cover, design, and marketing services based on the traditional model. He presently is the creative director, senior editor, and production manager for his company and oversees a team of twelve.
As a writer, John’s commitment to the craft has put him on course for a debut epic fantasy novel, A Thousand Roads (January 9, 2019). He also enjoys writing nonfiction, as an instructor for the lifelong learning website Highbrow, and recently as author of Your Daily Journal: 100 Day Starter . He has numerous other projects in the pipeline, both in fiction and nonfiction, and is also a ghostwriter.
When he’s not writing, John enjoys reading, listening to educational podcasts, playing chess, recreational mathematics, drawing trees or maps with pen, creating vector graphic artwork (mostly fractals), working with textiles, playing classical piano (especially Beethoven and Chopin), long distance running and strength training, gardening, long walks, serially watching his way through TV series’ in the evenings, board game nights with friends, and of course…pandering to the whims of his cat, Wizard, who is the true muse behind his stories. You can find John and you can find John on his website, his blog, and on Twitter.
(The Amazon.co.uk links in this post are affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you buy through these links.)