In Progress

And they said it wouldn’t get done…

(For the “before” picture, see here.)

Special bonus points if you can spot the New Mexican wildlife in the background. (And no, I didn’t notice she was there when I snapped the photo.)

I always liked the idea of Sundays as a day of rest. Or, rather, I like that concept, as in Orthodox Juadism of setting aside an entire 24-hour period away from the work and busyness of life. To contemplate the nature of God or the universe. To study. To rest and reflect.

I also like the idea of being cloistered for religious contemplation and I’m not about to do that either.

Sunday is almost always catch-up day for me. It certainly was yesterday. I cleaned both the house and the front and back gardens. Fortunately this also counts as exercise. But I did begin the day with writing. Writing only on my novel. I typically don’t post to the blog on Sundays. That’s one little rest I give myself as a matter of ritual.

Sundays are also different writing days, because my Progress Count spreadsheet resets itself. I begin by wordcounts anew for the following week. There’s this pristine quality to it because Sunday is the only day that progress for the day matches progress for the week. It would make more sense if I showed it to you and I’m not going to do that because people tend to freak out when I show them my spreadsheets.

My own little way of being anal.

On Saturday I went to a meeting of the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA) and this multi-published gal gave a presentation on her method of pre-plotting a novel. She does sticky notes. She does 3X5 cards. Then she types it all into a massive flow chart, scene by scene, prints out the pages and glue-sticks them together to make an accordion-fold map. It’s her process and it works for her.

I thought about what I would do, if someone asks me to present on my process. Since a lot of that process involves staring into space, I don’t think it would make for an interesting presentation. (Gardening, incidentally, is excellent for this kind of process.) I could, however, show people my spreadsheets.

This gal tartly noted that she gets checks in the mailbox for her work, as an argument to the folks who thought her technique seemed over the top. She feels this organization is key to her success. The pre-plotters have a knack for making those of us who dream our way through our books feel, well, like slackers.

That’s why I have my spreadsheets, I realized. I track my target finish date – yes, I use functions in Excel to calculate my projected wordcount and current rate of progress against today’s date. And I have the cells conditionally formatted to be yellow and say “not yet” or green for “yes!” depending on whether I’ve met the goal that cell represents.

Say what you will about rats pulling levers to get cheese cubes: I love to watch my cells turn green.

Is this a little bit nutty? Well sure, or people wouldn’t freak out to see it. Does it work for me?

I sure think so.

I mean, I’m not getting checks in the mailbox. Not yet. But someday that will be a Yes!

Besides, I prefer direct deposit.

7 Replies to “In Progress”

  1. I'd pee if I discovered one of my beasts doing what yours is. As for spreadsheets, you have to have some way of holding yourself accountable and showing progress. They're kinda like the "weekly report" for the cubicle-confined. After all, this is a job, just not one for which we're currently being paid.

  2. Oh, KAK – that one is a roof walker. There's no stopping her.

    And you're spot on – timesheets for self-employed. There's just no discernible paycheck.

  3. I can easily imagine the joy that the green "yes" elicits – "I" don't freak out at your spreadsheets.

  4. True, Laurie! I know you love me for my spreadsheets. And I also know how you love color-coding!

  5. We all must have our little ways of tracking progress. Some are just more anal than others, but life would be pretty boring if we all used the same methods.

    The landscape looks lovely!


  6. There is some chance I don't have a process. This may explain why I have never finished a novel. So if you ever need someone to make your "slacking" look ambitious, I'm your slacker.

    Lovin' the daredevil nature of New Mexico wildlife.

  7. Thanks Tawna – you going to come help with the yardwork??

    Marin – now I've got Leonard Cohen's "I'm Your Man" going through my head now. You can be my slacker anytime!

    It's true, though, that it takes a lot to actually finish the novel. That's why editors and agents won't look at anything that's not done, because so many people can start and so few finish. I bet you could do it, though!

    She's a daredevil kitty all right…

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