Tools for Writers: Butt kickin’, goal setting spreadsheet, free to use

Now that the curtains have closed on NaNoWriMo for another year, you may find yourself in the post-NaNo, pre-holiday slump. Persevere, dear friends! I’ve created something for you to help keep that old-timey NaNo feeling of panicked word production persisting throughout the year (sorry for the alliteration).

It’s a Google spreadsheet that– wait, where are you going? Come back! I promise, not all spreadsheets are boring, some can actually be useful, I swear! Especially for writers who are trying to keep on track and hit deadlines.

This spreadsheet is actually based on the ‘stats’ page in NaNoWriMo but you needn’t be a former NaNo participant to get use out of it. So, you’ll need to do a couple things to be able to use this spreadsheet. First, make sure you have a Google account. Then you can go to the Butt kickin’ goal tracker so you can pwn your novel! spreadsheet. You’ll need to make a copy of it so that you can edit it for yourself. Do that now by clicking on File –> Make a Copy. This will save it to your Google Drive.


Just start out by filling in the project targets, the start date, end date and what you would like to achieve in that time. The other fields you see here are automatically calculated.

There’s even a message that pops up if you’re ahead of your target or falling a bit behind.


To the left, you’ll see a string of dates in one column and a corresponding target number in the next. That number is your cumulative goal for that date, in other words, where your total word count should be by that date.  The third column, labeled “Actual” is the one you actively fill in each day. It’s important to remember that this is a running total, not just the words you wrote today.

For example, you can see that on December 1st, I wrote 2600 words (I wish) and then on the 2nd, I have 4500. That means on the 2nd I wrote 1900 additional words, bringing my total to 4500. Sorry if this seems like hand-holding.


Finally, we come to the chart. For NaNo-ites, this is where the real action is. This is your visual representation of where you are on that golden novel highway… though based on the steep grade, you may want to drop it down a gear or two. Think of it as a highway to heaven. Heavenly, first draft goodness.



That’s it, it’s pretty simple but hopefully it will help you on your path. If you have any questions, just hit me up here, or over at twitter, @nmhall. And if you find this useful, give me some link love on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Google+ or whatever other flavor of impersonal digital socializing you prefer.

Happy Roswell Anniversary!

Today is the 66th anniversary of the Roswell UFO incident. roswell-doodle1
Whether you believe that little green men came down from space that day or that it was a weather balloon, whatever happened that day in New Mexico left an indelible mark on the imaginations of countless SF fans.

To commemorate the day, Google has created a cute little interactive Google doodle where you play one of the aliens who crash land and have to find the pieces of your ship to put it back together.

The game is only a few minutes long, so it might be a welcome break at work while you’re struggling to shrug off the long weekend.



Tech Confessional: The Googler Who Looked At The Worst Of The Internet

This person had to scan all of Google’s products and watch child porn, bestiality, suicides and beheadings to filter them out. And at the end of his contract Google paid for one therapy session and showed him the door. “Don’t be evil,” indeed.

Tech Confessional: The Googler Who Looked At The Worst Of The Internet.

My personal aside: I feel bad for people that feel like they have to watch this kind of shit, especially for a profession. I really fucked myself up for a while by subjecting myself to some extremely graphic and violent videos that came out during the Iraq war. I figured it would help desensitize me for when I would eventually be a reporter in the field, trying to bring the truth out of these awful circumstances. In the end it was probably a good thing. I think that it was watching such horrific content that lead me away from wanting to be a war correspondent. I clearly wasn’t cut out for the work.