Thursday, 27 August 2009

I Heart Excel

As a writer I get enormous pleasure from using Excel.

I especially like the columns which can be used for writing in the organising information writer's use, like "Title".

And the way you can use the rows to write in any writing you may plan to do under those headings is especially helpful.

Once you've mapped out the two variables of your writing - for example, the "Title" and the "Subject" you can then use further columns to explore your work in more detail. Planning really is of the essence in writing. So being able to say how many words you intend to use, when you intend to complete a piece of writing, what themes one piece of writing may contain and how they might relate to any other pieces of writing you're planning in your Excel document, is something I find extremely beneficial to my work. To the extent that I don't know how I'd previously managed to do any writing before I was introduced to Excel. It's very easy for writers to think they have a clear understanding of a project - how many pages something is, what it's about. But having Excel there to keep you on target is a godsend.

So before you ever write anything ever again, however simple, obvious, tedious, or self-explanatory, take apart every single element of what you're GOING to do and map it out using my friend Excel. Even if the deadline is looming and you haven't even started writing anything yet, GO BACK TO EXCEL AND MAP IT OUT. It may take precious time. And it may feel like a futile, number-crunching displacement activity. But it gets results. Results that can be measured, scrutinsed, and regurgitated by other human beings who you may wish to gawp listlessly over your working process like a bored voyeur.

Just imagine if -for example- James Joyce- had had Excel when he wrote Ulysses. We'd be able see (in hindsight) how his masterpiece was actually a total fucking failure of planning and process. And who wouldn't want to pop that particular bubble?

By mediating and reducing everything in our lives through Excel, we can vividly see the sprawling insect horror of our pitiful lives day by day.

So the only question left is: Shall I save it on the network?

No comments: