I use spreadsheets all the time at work to keep track of my different projects, and it makes sense to use them with my writing as well. If you're a writer then you're going to want to put your stuff out there for people to read. And that's when it becomes so important to keep good notes.
Below are my three favorite spreadsheets that I use the most. I've included the templates to each of them at the end of this blog in case you're interested. You can adjust the templates, delete and add columns, and mold them to suit your needs!
- Publication Records: You should know who has your work and all of the details surrounding its publication. This is your baby after all. You've worked hard on your writing and you don't want to lose track of your accomplishments and your pieces. This spreadsheet is also great for keeping tabs on the things that you've submitted. Sometimes it can take months for a journal or publisher to get back to you, and you don't want to forget about it or lose track of who to contact about your submission. You may also want to submit somewhere else and depending on the type of journal you've submitted to, submissions to other places while you're waiting may not be allowed.
- Submission Ideas: Every writer needs to keep putting their work out into the world. Your stuff deserves to be read! That's why every once in a while I take a day to research journals that I'm interested in submitting to. I use this spreadsheet to keep track of any important information that I find, like links to their website, submission guidelines, copyright agreements, and due dates for submissions or writing contests. I also like to use this spreadsheet to brainstorm pieces that might be good fits for each journal.
- Character Reference Guide: If you have a novel with a large cast of characters or are working on a couple of projects at once, then this spreadsheet can come in handy. Character traits should stay consistent throughout a story. If your main character's blue eyes suddenly turn to green halfway through the story, it could undermine your reader's trust in you as a storyteller. This is easily avoidable. Use this spreadsheet as your reference guide for all of those little appearance or personality details. So that when you're writing and you forget whether their eyes are blue or green, you don't have to guess or read through your entire novel to find out. This spreadsheet also forces you to focus on giving every character, even the side characters, a fully formed persona. Not to mention all of the story ideas that can pop up just by creating an intriguing character.