Looking to Excel……

Ok, so that was me trying to be funny and oh-so-witty with a little play on words. Forgive my self-indulgence.

As part of the January challenge I have set myself, I have been trying to find the ideal way to log my daily word count that doesn’t result in hundreds of scraps of paper or multiple sets of numbers that need to be added up on a weekly or monthly basis. Then the thought struck me: I had started using a ‘novel navigator’ a few months ago to help keep track of the progress of my current project and had created it using Microsoft Excel. Why not use the same program to create a running log of the words I’ve racked up?


Eager anticipation gripped me. Something that was quickly replaced with abject fear when the realization struck me that it had been so long since I’d used Excel, its formulas and equations, that I’d pretty much forgotten how to use it at all. Learning Excel is a lot like learning a foreign language: if you don’t use the skills you’ve  learned on a daily basis you’re liable to forget them just as quickly as you taught yourself in the first place.

Tired of seeing the ‘#VALUE!’ symbol in each cell in which I had attempted to enter an equation, I finally held my hands up and admitted defeat. With a sense of shame, I took myself to the Microsoft Office website and read up on simple Excel tutorials, feeling like a complete fool for not knowing how to add two cells together. I honestly didn’t have two cells to rub together or the knowledge to do so either…..

Correcting my errors, I returned to my newly-minted spreadsheet with renewed enthusiasm as I gaily went on my merry way creating a table large enough to house a word count for all 365 days of the year and the required equations to be able to calculate the total at any given time.

I had achieved my aim. More than that, I found myself bitten by the need to create more spreadsheets, perhaps to help organize the less than tidy state of some areas of my life. Now I not only have a novel navigator spreadsheet, I have a running log of words written and a simple list of books read this year. Knowing how anally retentive I am, I shall probably have created a dozen more by the end of the month so that I can further prioritize my life with military precision.

I’m making a real push with my writing goals this year and from what I’ve read and heard from those in the ‘know’, embracing software such as Excel can really be of benefit to the budding writer. I hope that Word and Excel are a match made in Heaven as far as my own writing journey is concerned and I would recommend using spreadsheets as a way of getting to grips and keeping on top of your writing progress.

This has been a sponsored advertisement by Microsoft Office. Thank you for reading.

Ok…..so Microsoft didn’t pay me to write that. Feel free to throw a couple of dollars my way, Mr Gates….



Filed under Starting out

9 responses to “Looking to Excel……

  1. Go! Writing goals are the best of goals. You can do it, Heather.
    Audrey xxx

    • Thanks, Audrey!

      Sometimes it is a case of pushing through those days when I’d rather just sit around and not do much. I’ve committed myself to this challenge now and I’ll see it through to the end. Or at least I hope I will….. 🙂

      Heather xxx

  2. Yikes! I can’t stand Excel. My husband loves it and has all sorts of spreadsheets. It seems whenever I sit down to look at our budget, I instantly anger the program and weird symbols appear and moving lines with dashes make their way around one of the boxes. It’s amazed me that they haven’t been able to come up with a more user friendly way to create a spreadsheet.

    So, now that I’ve said how much I fear Excel, I’m super impressed with your spreadsheet making skills. I still do all my business accounting in a WORD document.

    • I must admit that I can only use Excel in it’s most basic of forms. Some folks can do some amazing stuff with it but I am afraid I am not one of them! I can add numbers up and the like but much more than that is beyond me. Perhaps I should add ‘learning Excel’ to my list of goals for 2014….

      Heather xxx

  3. Having spent the entire day at work entering numbers into an Excel spreadsheet, I may have to think about whether I can bear looking at one in connection with my writing. You are the most amazing, methodical woman… you are always coming up with new and interesting ways to do things! I’m still crushed to know that emails don’t count as my word count for a day…

    • Yep, emails do NOT count as part of the daily word count – well, not in the challenge that I’ve set myself anyway, otherwise I would be breezing through 3000+ words a day 😆

      Thanks so much for your lovely comments, I guess I am trying to find ways of keeping my challenge fresh and interesting for myself. I am even thinking of giving myself a reward at the end of the month if I manage to write every single day in January.

      Heather xxx

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