Notes On A Spreadsheet

I’ve got a story in November’s Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, called ‘Notes from Miss Norris’. It’s only my fifth WW acceptance this year, which isn’t many, so please excuse my boasty-boasty trumpet-blowing for a moment.

Ooh I do like an alliterative title!

Ooh I do like an alliterative title!

A quick glance at my spreadsheet (below) shows me that I’ve sent Woman’s Weekly 12 stories this year, so far. They’ve accepted 5, turned down 4 and I’m waiting to hear about 3.

I have different colours for womag stories (yellow), competition entries (mauve), poetry (orange), successes (blue) and stuff that hasn’t yet found a home and can be sent out again (red). I LOVE my spreadsheet! In fact, when I get a rejection, the one consolation is, that it’s an excuse to fiddle around on Excel for ten minutes or so (OK, half an hour).

The Spreadsheet

The Spreadsheet

The inspiration for the story came when I was surfing the internet one day (as I do, quite often) and I came across a newsletter from a headmistress to parents, asking them to a) collect conkers and b) write out – and illustrate – their family’s favourite poem, in order to decorate the school’s new library.

It gave me the idea for a teacher who constantly sends notes to parents, via the children. What if, I thought, one of the mothers couldn’t read and didn’t have a ‘favourite poem’? How would she cope? And the story grew from there. So you see, it’s proof that surfing the internet is NOT a waste of time: it is valuable research for stories.

Notes From Miss Norris

Notes From Miss Norris

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This entry was posted in Magazines, Short Stories, Successes, Woman's Weekly and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Notes On A Spreadsheet

  1. Wendy Clarke says:

    I use a similar sheet but it’s in the form of a table as I don’t understand spreadsheets! I remember when I first started, my sheet was filled with red (my colour code for rejections). Over the years it’s been gratifying to see the colours changing to more greens (my code for acceptances). Interestingly, and not surprisingly, I’ve noticed that since writing my novel, the yellows (stories looking for a home) have got fewer as I’ve written less. It’s time to address that!

  2. Heather Walker says:

    Congratulations! I love the spreadsheet. Looks very professional. My stuff is just written down in an exercise book. I can’t handle spreadsheets…possibly something to do with my number blindness!

    • Heather
      thank you! It may look professional but honestly, it’s easy and I don’t have complicated formulas in there or anything like that (I am not a maths person, either!). But I do like to be able to ‘sort’ by date and magazine and all that stuff and Excel lets you do that in seconds.

  3. CJ says:

    Oh I like this idea very much, it would work nicely for magazine articles as well I think. Well done on getting another story published. CJ xx

  4. Nicola says:

    Congratulations! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the outstanding 3! The fantastic Jane Wenham-Jones advised me a couple of years ago to keep a log and that’s when I started my spreadsheet. I keep it upbeat by the use of my favourite colours. Still nothing published but learned a lot during the process and hopefully now my stories will begin to land on the editor’s desk. Have a lovely Sunday!

    • Good luck with your stories Nicola. I find it motivating to have a spreadsheet because I like seeing the colours and totals change – and having all my work there, in front of me, to see. I have totals for ‘number of words submitted’ too – and always try to beat the year before! (this is all making me sound very organised. I hasten to add that I’m not, generally – only in the spreadsheet department!)

  5. Glad to know I’m not the only one with a lovely multi-coloured spreadsheet – very useful (and a wonderful displacement activity when I’m not in the mood to write!)

  6. juliathorley says:

    I’ve got a colour-coded spreadsheet, too. I’d also agree that surfing the internet is not a waste of time; nor is reading and commenting on others’ blogs. Keep up the good work.

  7. Tracy Fells says:

    I’m so pleased to know you’re a spreadsheet addict too – is there a collective term for us do you think? Love all your colour coding. Mine is very boring, but yes I get a little excited when it’s time to update it … a writer’s life is so full of adventure… Congrats on WW success – I’ve given up on them as every story got rejected and it took so long to get an answer.

  8. I actually have ANOTHER spreadsheet too… it’s my work one! Might have to ‘reveal’ that one next time (but I need to choose a page that shows me being productive, for once!). Shame about WW and you, Tracy but I can understand your frustration and you’ve moved on to other things now, haven’t you? I tried with them for a long, long time before they eventually accepted one of my stories but even now, it’s hard to get it right! (*bangs head against door*)

  9. Patsy says:

    Congratulations on the acceptance. I have the mag but haven’t read it yet.

    I’m another writer with a colour coded spreadsheet to track my stories.

  10. I too have a colour- coded spreadsheet for stories with my successes in blue as well! I also have one for poems We have a colour coded one for KISHBOO e-mag too,a colour to represent each season. We’re a pretty organised lot, aren’t we?

  11. charliebritten says:

    Well done, Helen! Five in WW is not a bad total at all!

  12. Kate Hogan says:

    Yes, well done, Helen! Your WW story sales look good to me. As for spreadsheets, I too have a multi-coloured one (it’s more of a table actually). I have blue for rejections, to reflect my rejected mood and yellow for sales because they make me cheery, competitions are purple.

  13. Jan Baynham says:

    Congratulations on the WW story acceptance, Helen. I love the multi-coloured spreadsheet. I just have a table which is more of a record of stories and where I’ve sent them. I shall be colour-coding mine from now on.

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