Friday, January 02, 2009

Juggling Multiple Projects, and a Present From Me To You

imageI have a present for you guys! Well, maybe you won't need it, but I made it all the same.

This last year, I had a bit of trouble juggling multiple projects. I have to "see" things to understand them. I have to "see" that if I take tomorrow off, I'll need to write X number of words a day to stay on track for my deadline.

I would have KILLED for this worksheet, then. I didn't even know you could track your progress this way, until the wonderful and amazing Meljean Brook sent me the worksheet she uses! (So thank her, because deconstructing her worksheet allowed me to make this one.)

As long as you do your set-up correctly, all you have to do everyday is type in your ending word count.

So it's easy... but the set-up isn't quite as much. If you want me to setup or customize one for you in Excel 2009, then I'll be happy to. You don't, of course, have to write six novels, LOL. They can be novels, novellas, short stories, edits, rewrites, whatever. Or you can delete the extras altogether. Again, if you don't know how to use Excel, I'll be happy to customize one for you. 

imageThe best part: the pretty charts it makes! (I'm a teensy bit proud of myself: two days ago, I didn't have a clue how to work Excel!)

I posted links so you can download them, too! It's tons prettier in Excel 2007, and I'm pretty sure Excel 2003 strips out all the pretty charts. :-(

You can download it here:
PRETTIEST: Excel 2007: Juggling Multiple Books
Google Spreadsheets: Juggling Multiple Books
Older Excel: Juggling Multiple Books (I don't have an older version of Excel, but I think it strips out my pretty charts. Hopefully you can put them back in?)

As a bonus New Year's present, if you have trouble customizing it, I'll customize one for you (on Excel 2007), if you send me all the info and stuff. It might take me a few days, but I'd be happy to.

Here's a walkthrough:

First, there's the Overview page, where you can see where you are for the year, all in one spot. It pulls information from each novel's page, so once it's set up, you don't need to fiddle:

On this page, I also track my proposal progress, so you can keep that or delete that:

Then each novel's page does several automatic calculations. Four, as you can see:

And, of course, we need a pretty graph to motivate us:
And finally, the "End" column is the only thing you need to update each day, and everything else automatically calculates for you! Under the "Daily Count" column, it lets you know whether you're under or over your goal. In the "Target" column, it lets you know the same thing, except every 5 days.

So how do you juggle multiple projects? Do you use any pretty charts to keep you motivated along the way to meeting your goals?

21 bonus scribbles:

Keris 1/02/2009 05:16:00 PM  

That is completely fantastic - I love it! But (and I'm sorry if I'm being a doofus), I can't work out how to save it in Google Docs.

spyscribbler 1/02/2009 05:44:00 PM  

Hey, you! Long time, no see! :-)

I think, if you're not me, LOL, you have to "Create a Copy," which will then save to your Google Account's Docs.

Does that work?

Keris 1/02/2009 05:49:00 PM  

I think that's worked, yes. Thank you!

Now I want to write five books, LOL!

meljean brook 1/02/2009 06:04:00 PM  

Oh, my god. I don't have multiple projects, but I'm almost tempted to get Office 2007 just so that I can use yours and have the pretty graphs.

spyscribbler 1/02/2009 06:06:00 PM  

Good luck, Keris! And ya' know, you can take five years to write those five books, no difference to the sheet, LOL! ;-)

spyscribbler 1/02/2009 06:07:00 PM  

Awww, Meljean. I wish I could send it to you! I got it 50% off on Black Friday, the Home & Student Edition. I don't know how other normal people afford it!

meljean brook 1/02/2009 06:22:00 PM  

I probably get it as a package on my next computer purchase, so I'll end up with it sooner or later ... I just love graphs. I didn't know 2007 made them so pretty.

spyscribbler 1/02/2009 06:24:00 PM  

Ooh... Meljean, you know what really gets me? They're not including it anymore! They just include those 90-day free trials!

Drives me nuts. Come to think of it, if you want to try Home and Student for 90 days, you can go to microsoft and download it.

Edie 1/02/2009 07:42:00 PM  

Spy, the worksheets look pretty, but I don't do multiple projects. I'm a one-at-a-time gal. If I stop for one project to work on another, I'll work on that one until it's finished, then go back to the first.

But I'm glad it makes you happy!

spyscribbler 1/02/2009 07:45:00 PM  

Me, too, Edie! I meant multiple projects in a year. Sometimes, I have plenty of time for the one I'm writing, and then I'm only thinking of that one, and I don't see how it will effect the ones next in line. It's terrible!

Sarah Laurenson 1/02/2009 08:12:00 PM  

Um, spy? Don't you have enough on your plate already? Offering to send out personalized copies of this to any who ask for it and here you're supposed to be writing a gazillion books this year. Oh. Right. This is part of the writing process that Kiersten talked about on her blog. I get it.

Just in case you missed her eighteen steps on how to write.

spyscribbler 1/02/2009 10:42:00 PM  

LOL! Sarah, that's EXACTLY what it was! Although, I reasoned with myself since it was Dec. 31 (when I did it), I didn't have to start my new schedule until Jan. 1.

(Been doing a fair bit of reasoning that since it's not "officially" back to the grind until Sunday, that I don't really have to...)


We'll get there. :-)

Anissa 1/02/2009 10:43:00 PM  

Holy crap, Spy! Look at you go!

I used to use Excel extensively in my past life (Ha! I love saying that) as an accountant. Can't say I've used it much since. Aside from the tax support spreadsheets, that is. Ugh, don't remind me. Anyway, looks beautiful. I may have to give it a try. I need a daily motivator.

Happy New Year!

Stewart Sternberg 1/03/2009 12:11:00 AM  

Okay, this takes obsessive compulsive behavior to a whole new level. At least that's what I thought as I first read this. Then, I started thinking. You know...I have this book I'm working on and it would be useful or interesting to see a chart that progresses and lets me know how much to write a day to see what I need to do to make a goal.

Hmmmm. Dangerous stuff.

I think it's important to set goals and have a plan though. But then, I've been reading too much Covey.

Dube 1/03/2009 02:53:00 AM  

This is a neat idea - and you're right, the charts are very pretty. :)

Re: the discussion in the comments about Office on computers... Sometimes if you buy a refurbished computer, it will come with Office already installed. Just a little trick I've recently learned. :)

Angie 1/03/2009 03:21:00 AM  

See, the problem with stuff like this is that it assumes you have some clue ahead of time about how long a project is going to be. I'm lucky if I can sort the shorts/novelettes from the novellas/novels, LOL! Forget putting a target wordcount on there, though. I mean, I could, sure, but it wouldn't mean anything. :P

I envy the little gauge-things people use -- they're like the NaNo thingies, but without the NaNo stuff on them. You can get more generic ones. Put in your story title, your target wordcount, your current wordcount, and then post on your journal or blog or whatever to show off how far you've gotten or get sympathy for how much you have to do. :) I can't use those either, because again, you need a target wordcount. [flail]

I like looking at other peoples' though.

For what I do, I just write. Whatever muse has grabbed me, that's what I work on. For shorter pieces I can keep things in my head, and for longer things I take notes -- I blogged about that a little bit ago. I've never yet had a contract for a piece I hadn't already written, and I'm frankly nervous about that. I know that if my career goes where I want it to, I'll have to have contracts in advance at some point, but I'm frankly not looking forward to it. I'd really rather just write the thing and then submit it and get it under contract for editing and all, but that's not how the business works so I'll have to suck it up and learn to make longer writing committments some day. O_O

At this point, I've only made advance committments for shorter pieces on the amateur side. Sometimes it's for a fic fest, where I've committed to write a gift story for someone (just had one of those get posted on the 31st, in fact) and sometimes I'll start posting something longer on a regular basis in my main journal, and once I have an audience I feel an obligation to keep chapters coming fairly regularly. That's scary enough, even when there aren't any contracts or money involved. [wry smile]

One of these days I have to write about a guy who's terrified of committment -- right up my alley. [headdesk]


Michelle 1/03/2009 07:46:00 AM  

I LOVE graphs and charts. They definitely make me work harder, because I love seeing those little lines creep up.

Charles Gramlich 1/03/2009 07:03:00 PM  

It's pretty and I admire the effort it must have taken. You and I think differently, though. I just jot down things I need to do in a simple list. Looking at something like this would probably make me say, to heck with it, I'm going to have a beer.

But if it works for you, so be it! ;)

Aimless Writer 1/03/2009 11:57:00 PM  

Charts? Graphs?
Are you a virgo?

Melanie Avila 1/04/2009 10:49:00 AM  

Wow, I'm not much of an Office person, but that's a really cool way to keep track of things. I don't have enough projects that I really have a need for it, but I'll keep it in mind. It's fun to see how you operate. :)

Lauren 1/05/2009 08:14:00 AM  

That's a great spreadsheet. I am only working on one project right now so I have a very simple spreadsheet that doesn't do daily word count, but does help me keep track of the draft number of each of my chapter sets (I have really short chapters), but I really like this spreadsheet. Thanks so much for sharing!