Saturday, December 04, 2010

A different kind of writing challenge

A lot of bloggers are doing the reverb10 challenge right now (see sidebar). The challenge is to write a blog post based on a prompt every day this month. Today's word must be "wonder." I'm often game for these kinds of challenges (like NaNoWriMo), but I'm passing on this one.

My "writing challenge" for this month is different. Last year, I finally followed Paul Silvia's advice and made a writing chart in Excel. Given that I can now track such things, I'm trying now to beat last year's total of written pages for the year.

My chart is a little different from Silvia's. In this chart, the word totals for writing tasks like reports, letters of recommendation or tenure letters, manuscript reviews, grant reviews, etc. don't count; I can only enter word counts for research-related writing on articles and so on.

My chart has columns for the date, the project, the number of words I started and ended with (which gives the day's total), and a column that converts word count to pages. The "project" column is really a space for a few words about what I was doing (teaching, class prep, travel) if I wasn't working on a project, which makes it easier to track why I wasn't writing. There's a column called "Comment" that I use to show when I sent an article or delivered a paper--probably unnecessary but very satisfying.

At the bottom of the pages and words columns, of course, is the payoff: the number of pages/words for the year. I don't know if I can beat 2009's number by the end of 2010, but I'm going to give it the old college try.


Sisyphus said...

Ooh, I'd like to see this spreadsheet. Not that I have the time or energy to write right now.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Well,that's inspirational. I'll have to come back to this post when my grading is finished. I like this idea, but today I gave myself permission not to write until the undergrad papers are all graded (I have to give them back Monday, so this is 3 days, at most).

Z said...

Love the spreadsheet idea, I'm joining right after finals!

undine said...

Sisyphus, it's pretty easy to put together--just columns and then an Autosum here and there. I'll post it if I can figure out how to do so.

Dame Eleanor--I understand! The papers stare at you while you try to write, or at least they do me.

Z--thanks! I just figured out that I only kept records from March onwards last year, so there's no way I can beat the record because I don't have the numbers. Still, it felt good to total everything up.