Writing Spreadsheets

I’ve been writing short stories, lately, to gauge how many words I can write in a given amount of time. I plan on making up some story spreadsheets so I can get my writing a little more organized. Right now, I’m what people refer to as a “pantser”.

PANTSER (noun): A novelist who writes by the Seat of the Pants, not taking time to plan the novel before beginning to write.

I wouldn’t consider myself a “novelist”, but the definition fits other than that. I have a tendency to sit down with some small idea (or none at all) and just bled the story out onto the blank screen. I often draw from my past experiences or try to imagine what new experiences would be like.   I’ve been wanting to turn one of my stories into an actual book for some time, but didn’t know how to go about it.

“You just write it out.”

Well, the thing is, that pantsing has it’s good points and bad points. It’s good because you can just write without a thought given to fitting into a timeline or plot. It’s bad because when you step back and take another look, the plot is very two dimensional. It doesn’t have twists, or doesn’t have them properly executed. This is where planning comes into play.

There’s a wonderful website by Jami Gold that has many templates for story spreadsheets.  What’s a story spreadsheet? It looks like this:

Beat-Sheet1

There are a variety of types with varying levels of complexity to suit your tastes in writing or in a given story. You can find them all HERE at Jami Gold’s site.

I prefer the simple ones because I am just starting this and I don’t want to get in over my head. Having said that, it helps to know a few things while planning to write something: your schedule, how long it takes to write how much, and any research for the environment, situations, and people in the story.  I’m working on figuring out how many words I can write, on average. This means timing myself as I write various short stories to see what the average is.  So far, it’s not too bad and I’m getting a good idea of how long it would take to write a story. Of course, you also have to edit said story – not only for grammar but also for adherence to the plot and the characters. Would that really happen? Would that person really do that? etc.

I currently don’t know what my schedule will be, since I’m starting a new job, but it’s a part time job so I should have at least some free time to write. The difficult part is actually sitting down and writing. I can come up with a billion and one reasons not to do it, simply because I’m good at procrastinating. Given all of this, I plan on being very lenient with my spreadsheet so that I can get those awesome morale boosts of finishing earlier than expected.  I am really excited, procrastination aside.

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