Saturday, February 23, 2013

Puff! The Magic Spreadsheet - Getting back into the writing habit

Where'd the blog go? Life snatched it from me for a while; there's been the new job (at Shen, Milsom and Wilke. See earlier posts), bouts with the flu for everyone in the family (including yours truly - for some days I was quite the wretched pixel-stained wretch) and the general everyday responsibilities of being some vague approximation of an adult. Sometimes there seem to not be enough hours in the day!

Back to writing. Behold the tools of the trade!
Earlier I talked about my return to the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers group, meeting a whole bunch of times monthly in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (or environs). I've talked earlier about the value of a good critiquing group, to fight off the loneliness if no other reason. Starting this months we're implementing a nifty writing-accountability tool we've seen elsewhere: the "Magic Spreadsheet". It started, so far as I can tell, with novelist Tony Pisculli. The idea is pretty simple; everyday you write some words, log a total into the sheet for that day, and let it track your running total and how many days in a row you've reached the official target. It then gives you a "score" based on the length of your total "chain" of successful hits. The target? A mere 250 words per day. That sounds quite modest, but at the end of the year you'll have over 90,000 words, or just enough for a complete novel. Think of it as "National Novel Writing Month" stretched out over an entire year.

The Magic Spreadsheet! The zeroes shame me.
You can see a version of the spreadsheet here, and either sign up to join someone else's or make your own. We at the BSFW, of course, have our very own running sheet. As of this writing, I've put up a string of zeroes and fallen behind the 250/day target by around 500 words. I'll try to catch up next week. My current project, working title A Survey of North American Heresies, is one I'm fairly excited about; I have another goal of workshopping the first of what will likely be a collection of thematically linked stories (I'm still not a novelist, and have little interest in being one) next BSFW meeting in March. So, the pressure is on.

Why did I put up zeroes? I'm following the rules. Editting doesn't count. Side projects don't count. Only work on the work-in-progress counts. In addition, I have the following going on:

  1. Multiple MOOCs, in progress. Including homework essays, peer reviews, etc. (topics ranging from digital image processing to Cosmology to modern and post-modern literature and philosophy) More on this in another post.
  2. My quest for the next level of accreditation from Infocomm, the AV trade organization; I plan to earn my CTS-D (Certified Technical Specialist - Designer) later this year. More on this in another "pixels" post.
  3. Peer-reviews and critiques from the writing group.
  4. This blog. I'll try two entries per week. 
  5. More reading. Currently on my way through Lev Grossman's The Magicians at the strong recommendation of fellow New York writer/blogger/thinker Evan Leatherwood. Evan is a different kind of writer than I am; he actually finishes things. Perhaps I'll share my thoughts when I finish.

On top of all the above, I sometimes sleep, love time with my family, and have a sometimes busy time at the job. So I'll close for now. Look for a "pixels" post later in the week!