Friday, March 1, 2013

Tracking Your Word Count

I'm a stickler for keeping track of my writing goals. Err, well, the first step is to a admit you have a problem, right? Okay. I aspire to be a stickler for keeping track of my writing goals. Normally I keep track of my daily word count on a tracking sheet I keep by my desk. But recently I was looking for an efficient tracking app. Specifically, I wanted to track
  • Words per day
  • Progress month-to-month
  • Track the yearly goal
  • Hours of writing per day
Mainly, I wanted something like the tracker on the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) site during November. Doing a Google search, I found a spreadsheet on another blogger's site. Svenja Liv is an illustrator/writer out of Ireland. Beside being a fantastic artist, she has created an awesome spreadsheet for writers to track their word counts.

First off, you can select one of several 'styles' Svenja has created using her artwork. I personally went with the Steampunk version. I liked the Pirate style, but didn't think I wanted to look at Johnny Depp for a year.

Sorry, amigo. It's nothing personal.

Once you've picked your style and downloaded the spreadsheet, enter in your word count goal for the year, and the spreadsheet divides that goal over the twelve month tabs. As you enter your daily word counts, the spreadsheet keeps track of where you are in relation to your goal, yearly & monthly. It even tells you in the Monthly Status Report line how many words you need to do per day if you fall behind.

Your progress for the year is monitored by a bar chart, just like when you do NaNoWriMo. Since I just started using the spreadsheet, I haven't seen much progress here.

Here's the links for the themes:
Huntsman & Steampunk
Pirate & Forest Fairy

Need spreadsheet software? I recommend OpenOffice. It's free.

Why Should I Care?
So, I hear a few of you shouting, "So what? Why should I stress out about tracking my word count?" Remember the quote by A. Lee Martinez:

“Those who write are writers. Those who wait are waiters.”

You don't want to wait, you want to write, and keeping track of your goal is how you make that happen. You are the boss of your one-person company, at least until you push Janet Evanovich off the NY Times bestseller list. Not only that, but when you contact an agent or publisher, and they want to know more about your writing habits, having this kind of documentation is an Ace up your sleeve. It documents your commitment to your craft. That alone is a powerful reason for tracking your work. But no matter how you do it, I recommend you start right away. You're worth it.

How do you track your progress? Do you use spreadsheets? Apps? Do you think it's important to keep track of your work?


  1. This thing looks awesome! Thanks for sharing.

    I would love to take you up on your Ireland Challenge. Are there any other stipulations?

  2. Nah! Just something to expand your knowledge base. Have fun!

  3. This is excellent! I haven't used these programs, just a word count meter to make public my progress. Speaking of which, I should update that sucker.

    I gave you a Shout-Out on my blog today. :)

  4. Wow! Thanks. I really missed the NaNoWriMo word counter. Makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something, if even just making a pretty graph.


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