Using what I know to write about what I know – Using spreadsheets as a tool in my writing

progress sheet

At work I may have many names unknown to me, but one I do know and revel in is “Excel Queen”. I just love spreadsheets; when used properly they have so many uses aside from bean counting and graphs.

Excel permeates every aspect of my life, probably because I am a list person, chart your progress person, and a someone who struggles with time and task management, it helps to note things down in a way that’s easy to sort and prioritise. Conditional formatting and sorting by colour are cool too!

So where’s the connection with writing a novel I hear you ask? I actually thought I was a bit odd, because I use Excel whenever I roll up my sleeves to do some writing. I have a master spreadsheet with tabs for the timeline, plot, a broad chapter summary, and handy character and place name lists (real and fictional).

What I didn’t consider was using a spreadsheet to track my overall progress, and it wasn’t until I Googled whether there were any other weirdos out there like me that I discovered that I’m not alone, and found some other great spreadsheet tools to aid my writing..

Jill Barville has used Excel to create a simple yet very effective Progress Report spreadsheet which tracks word count against weekly targets, and against the overall goal. I’ve used Jill’s template to create my own progress sheet, and it really incentivises me to see what percentage of my novel has been written up, and spurs me on to do more!


  1. Thanks Jill! Me too, it’s as if spreadsheets are anti-creativity: far from it! Your template was a great find for me, and a validation too! I’m also plotting my timeline and chapters on a different spreadsheet, I wouldn’t feel organised without them 🙂

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