About the Author: Spreadsheets, Productivity, and “Feelings”

If you’ve followed me for very long, you may have noticed the couple times I posted screen shots from my spreadsheets. I’m definitely not a spreadsheet ninja, but I’ve always loved the ways in which you can store and manipulate data with them.

In my writing, I find tracking productivity helps me stay on course and meet my goals. Some probably see it as overkill, but knowing how many words I’ve written/edited a month (both in total and for specific projects) guides future deadlines and expectations. It is a very useful metric, both for motivation (if I’m behind) and for satisfaction (if I’m meeting my goals).

An example of my productivity log for Harbingers of the Dawn.

When I started Harbingers of the Dawn, I began using a few new spreadsheet techniques I’d never tried before. They were related to the interior workings of the story: outlines, time lines, and “feeling” charts. Spreadsheets are definitely intended to be number oriented, but I like being able to lay out my thoughts and notes in a structured way that a word processor doesn’t allow.

One of the sheets I found most helpful was my “feeling” chart. In a series as big and complex as the Dawn Saga, I constantly find myself having to remember how a multitude of characters think/feel about each other. Add to that the evolution of plot, and it can quickly become a mess. The Feeling Chart was my solution.

How I track interpersonal relationships. If only it was this easy in real life!

Obviously, this chart has to be updated constantly and is limited in scope, but it goes a long way towards preventing plot errors. Its worked great for Harbingers and I think I will continue using it for every big project in the future.

I have a bunch more spreadsheets, but I think you get the idea. There are numerous other systems for keeping notes and tracking progress, but this is what works for me.

Leave a Reply