This series started by talking about streaks, went on to spreadsheet basics in creating a tracking spreadsheet, and then leveled up the spreadsheet with an Excel table. In this post, I'll show you how to use pivot tables for greater insights into your writing. Yes, writers pivot tables too—it's an easy way to discover different ways to look at your word counts.
In the last post, I went over the basics of creating a simple word count spreadsheet. If you're not familiar with spreadsheets, it's a good place to start. As simple as the spreadsheet is, it provides a foundation for other improvements. Recording the data is only the first step. With the improvements to the word count spreadsheet in this post, we'll start to see how it can be used to provide more information about our writing.
I love data and data tools. Some of my fellow librarians find this amusing—and useful! I find data very useful. This isn't usually considered odd in athletic pursuits. People routinely track and discuss data about their favorite sports teams. If you're a runner you probably know how far, how long, and at what pace you ran. There's a good chance you track that information. Wearable tech has made it easier than ever to track our athletic efforts, visualize the data, and inform our attempts to improve. In my last post, I talked about the power of streaks. Today, I want to share some tips on using simple spreadsheets for tracking your word counts.
I'm a full-time librarian with a family and a writing career. The best way I've found to get words on the page is incredibly powerful. It's also a bit like trying to build a fire with your bare hands. Many writers try starting a writing streak after hearing about the benefits—and it works about as well as most New Year resolutions. I'm going to share the simple techniques that I use to start a streak and build it into a powerful force in your writing career.
I love reading short stories. I don't ever have enough time to read all of the short stories that I'd like to read (or novels). Although I'm always happy to read an anthology or collection, I love reading science fiction magazines. I continue to submit my stories to these markets as well, and look forward to appearing in the pages of these magazines.
Taking risks makes our hearts beat faster. Doing something risky leaves you vulnerable to rejection, disappointment, or failure. Writers face this fear all the time. We might love writing and have fun telling our stories, but that sense of risk can hurt our work. It's possible to take risks with confidence, overcome our fear, and live with greater freedom in our life and our writing.
Writing and depression both factor into my life. For the longest time, I didn't know that I suffered from depression and anxiety. It showed in many ways, the worst that I presented a positive face in public but my family saw the downside of keeping up that smiling depression. Fortunately, a couple years ago a major depressive episode actually helped me realize I needed assistance, that doing so wasn't a sign of weakness.
Writers and coffee shops go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Especially when the coffee shop sells delicious dark chocolate peanut butter cups. You'll also find writers working in libraries. And at work. If you're a busy creative with a full-time job, finding those moments when you can work on your writing is key to productivity. The tools have changed over the years, but the one thing I have done is write anywhere I get the chance to write.
I'm setting up my site so that I can sell direct to readers. I still plan to offer my books through the major retailers. Selling direct offers many advantages for both authors and readers. I'd planned to do this years ago, but at the time it was a much more difficult thing to set up. Today, many tools exist to make direct sells easier than ever. This post isn't about the details of setting it up so much as why consider it at all?
Well-written novel openings draw readers right into the story—and the really good ones convince readers to put aside whatever else they are doing!
Way back in 1993 we were packing up to move. I'd taken on the task of boxing up books (a much bigger task now). This involved sitting on the floor as I packed books into cardboard boxes. In the middle of this, I came across Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King. I hadn't had a chance to read it yet, so I decided to take a peek. I opened the book and I began to read.
What did you ask, Andy Bisette? Do I "understand these rights as you've explained em to me"?
I didn't stop reading until I finished the book. This isn't as long as some of his books, but still. Instead of packing books into boxes so we could get moved—and we really wanted to get out of that place—I sat there and read the whole book! Effective openings have that kind of power. It isn't just the first page of the book either. Great novel openings show up at scene and chapter breaks too. They reel you in past all good sense.