The Magic Spreadsheet and Open Office!

Okay,  just a warning, this post seems to be full of links.  Feel free to click ones that catch your fancy, or just ignore them as I try to clumsily explain them, either way.  Now I know what you are thinking, but I swear, I’ve been writing off and on, I’m just not using WordPress as my personal word processor anymore.  Used to be, it was the only ‘program’ that I could get both a spell check and a word count since I don’t have Microsoft word, nor do I have the money to buy the overpriced office suite it comes with.  No problems though, I found something better!  I will be posting some of my writing on here, eventually.  For the most part though, I’ve been keeping my work safely wrapped up on a flash drive and my computer.

The need for the spell check is obvious, I’m terrible at it!  My Chrome spell check gets a good number of my mess-ups but I do like an added safety net when it comes to being a total doofus with my writing.  The word count hadn’t been too much of an important feature till recently.  I would eye the size of my posts before publishing sometimes, only to wonder just how small my posts seem to be compared to other, more prestigious posters.  Oh well!  However, I started a new program thingy where the number of words you write becomes important.   I’ve been on sites like where the premise is to write a page a day and by the end of the year, you’ll have a whole novel.  I didn’t like that it was a pure word processor type site and that the “page” would stop too late in the Pdf it saves as.  I don’t know, it was just so not me.  So, I stopped.

Then, halfway through the year, I came across a podcasting author named Mur Lafferty and one of her wonderful Podcasts entitled I Should Be Writing.  It was inspiring, to say the least.  Here is an author that understands the struggle just to get to a computer and write, and she gives advice to other would be authors in the most amusing way.  It doesn’t hurt that she reminds me a lot of my other favorite author Laurell K. Hamilton, at least her voice does.  I’ve read one of her books The Shambling Guide to New York City, and as soon as I find my bookstore gift certificate I’m going to get Ghost Train to New Orleans which I heard recently came out!  She’s now tied with Laurell in my affections *sorry Laurell!*  Anyway, in her ISBW podcast she mentions The Magic Spreadsheet and NaNoWriMo.  Now, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month *November* but people use the guidelines in the activity to write 50,000 words in a month, any month.  Still, the creator of The Magic Spreadsheet, Tony Pisculli thought that the premise was too intense for some.  Yes, you could put forth the vomit of the brain onto paper and come up with 50,000 words in 30 days *roughly 1666 words a day…er, EVIL!* but he had a better idea.  See, if you try to run a marathon without building up to it, training for it, you’re going to kill yourself.  You may not kill yourself if you try to spew up 1666 *makes sign of cross* words a day, but if you try to do that when you’re hardly used to putting out a couple hundred, you’re going to turn your brain to mush, hitting it on that keyboard.  Instead of the marathon that NaNoWriMo represents, he devised a sort of daily workout game.  It’s pretty easy actually.  You start out, with a goal of 250 words, and every day you meet that goal, you get a point.  Keep it up, and you earn points for your chain, points for consistency, and bonus points for hitting over your goal, though staying consistent gives you a better score overall than writing in bursts.  However, if you miss a day, you break your chain and your points will go back down to zero.  When you reach a certain amount of overall points, you level up and your quota goes up.  I’m level 2, and my chain has been broken once…for a few months…but I am determined to keep with it!

Which brings me to Open Office.  I was using WordPress in a cut and paste sort of way so that I could get an accurate daily word count for the spreadsheet.  It was a pain in the upper part of the backs of my thighs!  I grumped to a friend of mine, and he kindly showed me to this lovely program that he uses at work and at home *I think, don’t quote me on that one*  Point is, he uses it, and has no problems with it.  It’s a free program much like MS Office except $500 cheaper.  I mainly use it’s writing side since that was the program I was looking for, but it is an office suite so if you are looking for something to work with templates and such you could try it out as well.  It does have a word count feature that not only counts total words *it does count asterisks as words, so watch out for those!* but will count total number of characters and total words, as well as the number of words and characters in a selected group.

I even went so far as to set myself a timer.  No mater my word count, I write for a set time and add the number to my score.  Of course if I don’t reach my number in that time I’ll have to keep writing, but so far, I’ve gone way over my numbers most days.  Only problem is I don’t always set myself down and write like I should.  I’m pretty inconsistent actually.  I know, “Duh!” right?  It’s a process…

Well, now that I’ve fully doused my five readers in links, I believe I’m going to go update my lines in the spreadsheet!  Happy typing everyone!

About Cici Brown
I'm a happily married mother of two and a half. I'm usually pretty bubbly and in some cases, according to my husband, too open about everything. I am and always will be a gamer geek, though I haven't table-top roleplayed for many years. I still manage to hit an MMO or two. My interests include most things geek and Vampire fiction, though not the sparkly kind, that's not vampire fiction. I have goals towards publishing that have yet to be fulfilled but one day...

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