NEW as of April 2023: Pomodoro Tracker! Scroll down for details.
Greetings, fellow writers! This workbook is a compilation of tools that I've developed to motivate myself, and I'm happy to share them with you. It's easy to forget how much work we've put into our craft, and sometimes being able to see that work in a different way can really help get us through the inevitable low spots. If you find any bugs I missed after January 1, 2023, please email me at [email protected]. Thank you! I am no longer on social media, so if you find any of these tools useful please share them freely. Want to know more? See the FAQ tab.
You do not need to request access to this workbook. To save a copy of the entire workbook for yourself, go to File > Make a Copy. If you only need to add this year's Word Count Tracker to your existing personal workbook, click on the down arrow on the "Daily Word Count 20xx" tab to expand your options, select "Copy to..." and search/select the name of your workbook. The new tab will appear in your workbook as "Copy of Daily Word Count [Year]." If you don't see the Google Docs toolbar at the top, try ctrl + shift + F. (Thanks to Stewart Baker for troubleshooting that for us!) A brief guide to the tabs below:
Daily Word Count - Record your daily efforts here. Remember, even one page a day will produce a finished novel in a year! The cells will change color depending on how many words you record for the day. In the center of the spreadsheet you'll also see weekly totals, and how much you've written year-to-date. Those words add up faster than you might think!
New: Pomodoro Tracker - Not everyone finds word count to be the best measure of their progress, and it's more or less useless during the revision process. But we put in the time, and we should have something to show for it! Enter the Pomodoro Tracker. So what's a Pomodoro? Well, it's a tomato. More specifically it's a tomato-shaped egg timer owned by the creator of this productivity tool, which he used to time short working "sprints." One Pomodoro is 25 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break; a second Pomodoro is followed by a 10 minute break. Enough focused time to get started and get something done, but not so long that we get frustrated or burned out. The color key only goes to 8 Pomodoros, but if you did more than that (a) you're a rock star, and (b) the calculations will update correctly if you enter a value greater than 8. There are many Pomodoro timer tools out there, like this online timer: https://pomofocus.io/ or this Chrome extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/pomodoro-chrome-extension/iccjkhpkdhdhjiaocipcegfeoclioejn or the classic tomato timer: https://www.amazon.com/60-Minute-Kitchen-Timer-Tomato/dp/B00EEUHJHO So pick the one that fits your vibe, get to work, and record your Pomodoros on the tracker tab!
Career Bingo - We all have goals and dreams. Goals, of course, are things that you are in control of--how many words you write, how many stories you finish--but those dreams and milestones are real, and you might be surprised at how often you reach them! Modify this sheet with your own goals, or pie-in-the-sky, never-gonna-happen career fantasies, and mark them as your dreams start coming true. (Apparently there are now whole workshop sessions on career bingo for writers?! That's awesome. GO GO GO GO GO.)
Stories - This is how I track my yearly progress in terms of what I finished, submitted, and sold. I set my goals here--sometimes I meet them and sometimes I don't. When I don't, I try to just do better the following year. Life is in session!
Kanban - Kanban, originally a management tool for large-scale production, has been adapted to meet project management needs for all kinds of work. I find it a good way to stay focused and positive. The idea is that your "To-Do" list may be infinitely long (I have nearly 100 incomplete stories) but we can only work on so many things at once. I limit my "Doing" list to three: a long-form piece, a short story, and maybe some kind of administrative task or creative exercise. Once one of those three things is complete, they move to the "Done" list (which reminds my easily-frustrated brain that I have accomplished quite a lot despite its insistence otherwise), and something else moves from the "To-Do" list to take its place. Some people might give themselves five things in their "Doing" list, but the point is to set a reasonable limit, whatever that limit is.
I hope that you'll find these tools motivating and useful. Happy writing! Christie