GOOD MORNING, CYBERSPACE!
I’ve been flipping and flopping over how to start this month off here on Smudged Thoughts. As you all know, April’s Camp NaNoWriMo is one of my absolute F A V O R I T E months of the year, which means that I naturally want this first post–this first step into the month of April–to be something truly special.
I debated character interviews, Camp NaNoWriMo blog tags, pep talks, writing prompts. . . But none of them felt right. During all of this mental brainstorming, however, I was working on a side project of my own–a simple little thing that I was planning on using to make this Camp NaNoWriMo the best NaNoWriMo I’ve had thus far. Spurred on by my constant failure at tracking my writing process, I decided to delve into the confusion that is Google Spreadsheets and create my own kind of progress tracker–a tracker which, instead of being filled with a bunch of useless information I had no desire of knowing, was filled with the kinds of things I was actually excited to track.
Now, I cannot possibly continue any further without giving a very specific addendum right here–I know absolutely nothing about Google Sheets. At least, I used to know absolutely nothing about Google Sheets, to the point where I would occasionally open a blank template up, stare at it for about three seconds, and then toss my laptop into the river instead. However, about a year or so ago, my friend Phoebe (writer, blogger, funniest/sweetest human being in the entire world, and spreadsheet extraordinaire) found out that I wanted to learn how to work a spreadsheet. And luckily for me, she just so happened to be willing to teach me how to work them.
One amazing tutorial and many failed attempts at creating a cohesive tracker later, I sort of know how to work my way around a Google spreadsheet.
I’m still slightly iffy on many of Google Spreadsheet’s features, but I’m getting better, and the more I fiddle with them, the more I’m beginning to understand the general mechanics.
Which leads us back to my little creative project and–as I’m sure some of you are beginning to guess–the real meat of today’s post.
Today, I’m not going to be giving you all a pep talk. (although goodness knows I could probably use one of those right about now. XD) I’m also not going to be doing an interview or writing prompt. Oh no. To mark off this most glorious month of frenzied writing, I wanted to give you all something you could actually, tangibly use.
And what is this “thing” I’m referring to, you might ask? Well, I’m sure most of you have figured it out by now, but let’s just ignore the obvious and pretend like what I’m about to say is the most exciting thing in the whole entire world. . .
My dear peasants, as a First Day of Camp NaNoWriMo gift, I am giving you all the template for my very own WRITING PROJECT TRACKER!
EEP! I am SO excited to be sharing this with you all! I started working on this as a just-for-fun kind of project, but it quickly evolved into something I felt was worthy of sharing with my favorite writing people. (hint: that’s you.)
Assuming I’ve formatted this correctly (which is obviously a very large stretch of the imagination) you’ll be able to click the link above and create a copy of the template (FILE>MAKE A COPY) which you will then be able to edit to your heart’s desire. IF FOR ANY REASON YOU ARE UNABLE TO COPY AND EDIT THE TEMPLATE please contact me via email (you can find my email address under CONTACT up at the top of this page) so that I can either fix the link, or give you your own copy of the template for your own personal use. I’m not very tech savvy, so please bare with me if we have a few technical difficulties. XD
Anyway! Now that you (hopefully) have your own working copy of the template, let’s dive into some of its features! I feel like most of the features within this template are pretty self-explanatory, but here are some random facts, anyway!:
Probably the most random of all the features on this template is the Emotion Tracker. However, I was recently listening to the Happy Writer podcast hosted by Marissa Meyer, and during the first episode, Marissa was talking to author Jessica Brody about her writing process. One of the things Jessica mentioned was how she had tracked her emotional highs and lows during her project drafting, and how, over the course of time, she could look back and see where her mood had dipped and rose in each of her novels. Eventually, after several novels, she could then compare her notes and find specific connections between her mood and the part of the book she was working on at the time of each dip or rise.
And this fascinated me, folks. So I decided to do something similar! Within this project tracker, you will find a chart to track your current mood towards your book on a scale of 1 to 10. Not only will this track your mood day-by-day over the course of the month (or however long you decide to track this project), but at the very bottom of the spreadsheet, it will also automatically calculate your average emotion towards the entire book! This may or may not be a feature you choose to use, but since I’m personally using this to track not only my Camp NaNo project, but the majority of SK’s progress, I thought it would be a fun feature to play around with.
DAILY TRACKER VS. PROJECT TRACKER
Within the template, you will find two separate sheets. The first is the Project Tracker, which is to concisely track your overall progress every day throughout the drafting process. The second is the Daily Tracker, which is used to track multiple writing sprints over the course of a single day.
I’ve tried my best to include examples of sprints within the Daily Tracker sheet, but essentially, the Daily Tracker takes all the information from each individual word sprint you participate in and collects it all into a nice, neat little package at the bottom of the screen, which you can then copy over into the Progress Tracker sheet–no math needed.
Some of you may find the Daily Tracker useless, some of you–like me–will find it a fun little extra. When it comes to the individual sheets, you can totally use one or the other, or both in tandem. Use whatever works for you, tweak whatever doesn’t, and ignore the rest.
CAMP NANOWRIMO AND BEYOND
I’m willing to bet that a lot of you–if you decide to use this–are going to be using this project tracker for Camp NaNoWriMo (thus the reason I’m posting this today, at the very start of the month!). But a very important thing to note is that this tracker is NOT specifically designed for NaNoWriMo. As such, it goes at least ten days beyond the normal thirty day structure, and has the potential to go even further out, depending on if you decide to add more rows.
Because of this, there ARE some things–such as the Daily Word Goal column–which will have to be input manually. In the future I might be able to figure out a way to automatically calculate a Daily Word Goal, but for right now it’s a manual thing.
However, this also gives you more creative freedom to calculate your own day-by-day word goals, depending on your own unique daily schedule, (again, something I am VERY excited to utilize once my Life decides to pick up again.) so we can consider this less a design flaw, and more a creative genius, am I right? Of course I’m right.
As of right now, all of the automatically generated numbers can be found at the bottom of each sheet, so if you’re looking for generated numbers, that’s where you’ll find them. *thumbs up*
MAKING IT YOUR OWN!
This next bit is for the Spreadsheet newbs like me. (if you’re a spreadsheet master, feel free to skip this paragraph) You might have noticed that both the Project Tracker and Daily Tracker have their own specific color themes! I chose these based on the overall tone and texture of my Camp NaNoWriMo project, SK, but you can totally change up the look for your own projects! All you have to do is click FORMAT up at the very top of the screen, then slide down to ALTERNATING COLORS. Choose the color schemes you want for each individual row, or make all the rows the same color. It’s totally up to you! You can also use the Fill Color option for individual row slots, but I prefer the alternating colors, which is why that’s the default. XD
You can also add or delete any functions that don’t work for you. If you don’t want to track your mood, go ahead and delete that column. If tracking how much time you invest in a project isn’t your cup of tea, go ahead and switch that up, too. Maybe you’d like to add a tracker for how many cups of coffee you drink during a single writing day (this isn’t something I’d do, since I hate coffee, but I know a lot of you out there adore the stuff XD). You could totally take one of the N/A sections and make it a CAFFEINE CONSUMED column. The sky is the limit!
I designed this project tracker to be filled with the things that I, personally, was interested in tracking, which means that you may or may not want them in your own. And even though this tracker is good to go from the very start, there’s nothing wrong with switching things up and making it your own. It is a template, after all, and templates are meant to be altered.
(but if you DO decide to keep it relatively similar to its initial state and decide to share it on your blog or whatnot, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to a link back. . .! ESPECIALLY if it means I get to see how you’re using it to suit your own projects!!! <333)
And that, my dear peasants, about wraps up today’s post! I do have a few little announcements–or rather, HUGE announcements–that I’d like to share really quick, so don’t go clicking away just yet! (even though I’m sure you’re all dying to get back to your books. JUST HOLD ON, PEASANT, THIS WILL ONLY TAKE A MOMENT.)
First thing’s first–I AM CO-HOSTING A MONTHLY WRITER’S LIVESTREAM!!!!! About a month ago, Phoebe, Ally, and I decided to dive headfirst into the world of livestreams, and together, we created Plots & Plans–a monthy writer’s livestream by writer dorks, for writer dorks (<< this was written by Ally, and I am wholly and completely in love with it.)! Our first stream aired on the 28th, and you can find the playbacks for it on Ally’s channel HERE and HERE. I will warn you, however, virtually everything that could possibly go wrong within a livestream WENT WRONG within the first 25 minutes. So THAT was fun… XD I would also recommend wearing headphones because the audio is a little out of whack (especially on my end). But overall, it was amazing and fun and I am SUPER excited to do it again! We’ve got a second stream planned for an ambiguous day in April–the date is still to be determined–so keep an eye peeled here for any updates on that!
But alsoooo, tying right along into my second bit of news, you can also stay up-to-date and connected with us over on the Plots & Plans twitter page, @plotsnplanslive!! This morning we hosted a whole slew of Twitter Sprints to ring in the new Camp NaNo, and if I’m not mistaken, we’re planning on hosting even MORE sprints throughout the month using #pnpsprints! We’ve got an early bird and night owl from the good ol’ EDT, and an early bird in the PDT, so whatever your time zone, we should be able to cater to your writerly needs! Head on over to our twitter page right HERE and say hi! We currently have a writerly poll running–which part of a story is your favorite to write?–so 10/10 go check that out, too! (and also tell us what days/times work best for you in regards to sprinting/communal writing! This month is gonna be a blast, my friends!)
I do believe that officially wraps everything up for now. . .! All that’s left to do is go write all those words I’m procrastinating on right now. . . Aha. You’d think I’d cut myself some slack since I stayed up till 3 am this morning and have already logged in over 2.5k, but ALAS. It is NaNo, and during the NaNo, we must W R I T E!
TALK TO ME, PEASANTS!
IT’S CAMP NANOWRIMO, PEASANTS!!! Let’s talk about ALL OF THE WRITERLY THINGS! I’m also getting a bit of a late start today due to sleeping in, but shush. I need this. XD
- How are you doing on the first day? (depending on your time zone, is it even still the first day of Camp for you?) Tell me your word/progress counts below, and I shall cheer you on with pompoms and cookies! *gets pompoms ready*
- Do you enjoy staying up late–or…early?–on the first day of NaNo? I stayed up until three helping host writing sprints over on the plotsnplanslive twitter page, and I don’t regret it even for a SECOND.
- What do you think of our writerly livestream? Pretty snazzy, huh? I’m looking into getting headphones with an actual microphone so that I don’t sound like I’m 3,000 feet away on a far-off mountain, so that’s fun… *thumbs up*
and most importantly of all. . .
ARE YOU GONNA USE THE SPREADSHEET TEMPLATE???
I really hope you do. And if you do, I hope you enjoy it! I’m weirdly proud of this little thing, even though he’s relatively simple. He’s still my child who I adore and I shall cherish him always. *squishes project tracker nicely*
But as always, let us talk about ALL OF THE THINGS down in the comments below! And until next time. . .