And the only one who can do anything about it is me. So I gave the Magic Spreadsheet a try (almost). The gamification of writing.

The rules as I understand them:

  1. Write at least 250 words (equivalent to a page) everyday. Every 250 words is a point.
  2. Keep score with continuous blocks of goals met. Ex. If you’re written 250 words a day for a week your score is 7. 500 words a day for a week, 14. But if you miss a next day your score drops all the way back down to 0.

As this chain builds and your score gets into the two or three digits it taps into the compulsive part of the brain, the seed of game addiction. Using that nasty bit of neurology for good instead of evil.

So far I’ve only played by the first rule with a macro-less spreadsheet. Eventually I aim to write a full web app to calculate the score. In the meantime I’ve written up this basic version using ZingChart.

Setting a daily goal of 500 words a weekday and 1000 a weekend I managed to get 27,922 words written these last two months. That’s almost half of my total words written so far and I didn’t make my goal everyday, not by a long shot. I was only a third in, now I might be done by mid February. The desire to fill cells on the spreadsheet is a great motivator.

(Note: This isn’t a fair comparison. I was work-shopping as I wrote the first 40,000 words. They’re in their second draft, while everything I’ve written since November is a rough first draft. But the goal is to get the first draft done since that’s the hardest part.)

The Third Act is my Complication

No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy and neither did my outline survive contact with the third act. Changes I made in the first act invalidated large parts of the third. Major characters had their roles changed and needed to be replaced. Motivations no longer lined up with actions. Moles reconsidered their treason. Characters that died lived and vice versa. The warranties expired on my MacGuffins. I hit that wall and I spent Christmas weekend re-plotting the last five chapters. Gotta blue that print, measure twice, and proper that planning if the words are to flow.

Because done… done is beautiful.

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