Writing and the Magic Spreadsheet

The short version is that I’m writing with some fair consistency.

I haven’t done this since 1996 or so. Writing got put on hold once I moved out East to work in publishing in 1997 and it had some fits and starts over the past two or three years, but nothing consistent. I’ve tried a bunch of different things to motivate me* but nothing has worked well.

The long version is that author Christian Klaver put out an open call for people to be a part of a new Magic Spreadsheet that he was starting in August. I wrote to him asking to be a part of it. I’d been on panels with Christian in the past and found him an intelligent, creative guy.

Plus my writing needed a boost and I’d heard tons of raves about the Magic Spreadsheet.

The Magic Spreadsheet gamifies writing. If you hit your daily word count (250 words) you get a point (there’s a scale for when you write more than that, but let’s start simple). Then you get a point for every day of the chain you’re in up to 30 points.

That means on day one you’d get two points for hitting your goal and starting a chain. Day two, you’d get one point for your writing but two for your chain. That means after two days you’ve got three points. The points add up quickly (see image at the top of this post). If you keep an unbroken chain, you’ll max out at 30 (so you’d get 31 each day for your word count and chain length) but if you miss a day, you start over at one again.

I first heard about the Magic Spreadsheet via Mur Lafferty’s podcast “I Should be Writing” some time last year and was intrigued. I looked into a live one online (they tend to live in Google Drive) and thought it was cool but wasn’t ready to dive in.

The time needed to be right, you know?

Well, in that respect writing can be like children: there is no right/correct time to start. You just make the decision and go for it.

So rather than think about it, I just dove in and got started.

I ‘won’ August for word count but got beat in point total (although I could’ve won that with better planning at the end of the month). It was just more than 9300 words, but it felt great to write and be motivated to write. I’m finishing off a bunch of short stories that had false starts. I’m going to write some posts about them over the coming weeks.

For now, I’m just getting first drafts done. I’m not worrying about the quality of the content I just want to get it on the page. As I’ve discovered, no matter how my first draft looks, I know that I have strong editorial skills to make the draft better.

* Two things come to mind almost instantly: the Storymatic and my two sets of Story Cubes. I’ll be writing posts about those, too. It’ll be nice to actually use them rather than have them gather dust in my closet.