Tracking Word Counts Made Easy

February 2, 2011

Song of the Day: Firework by Katy Perry

Writers know that there is great satisfaction in meeting and exceeding word count goals. It’s an accomplishment, no matter how big or small, that makes us feel good about our progress. Every word is one more word than the last and brings us closer to the manuscript’s final words ‘the end’.

When participating in challenges such as the madness of NaNoWriMo or The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood’s Winter Writing Festival, word count benchmarks are essential. An author can waste time figuring up how far they’ve come or how far they’ve got to go.

That’s one reason I enjoy using tools that help me keep track of my progress visually. My choice of tracking device is called Write Track, created by fellow writing daredevil, David Gale. The Write Track is a tracking system custom fit to any author’s need. The writer creates a pre-planned schedule based on their current goals, even as those goals fluctuate. This super easy program has a bar graph to show progress and a calendar which breaks up word counts for each day of the schedule.

Jenn - I would love nothing more than for you to accompany me to my next movie premier. 🙂

Let’s use the Rubies’ Winter Writing Festival as an example. I proposed that I would write 500 words everyday of the challenge. That’s 17,500 words total. Each calendar day will show my goal to be set at 500 words. If I write 1000 words instead of the target 500 words, the calendar adjusts my minimum word count goals lower for the remaining days left in the challenge and I watch my graph grow.

But wait! What if I don’t meet my word count goal? Life happens. The washing machine breaks and a whole day is wasted cleaning up and waiting on the plumber. Or a child gets the flu. Or the MIL makes a surprise visit. Or you have a blog (wink, wink) Poof! The day is gone. The word count is ka-put. No worries, my time-impaired friend. The Write Track calendar will readjust the minimum word count, spreading it out over the rest of the challenge to meet your targeted goal. How cool is that?

Plus, you can give each day a weight. Say Gerard Butler has asked me to be his date for a fancy-smancy movie premier in Cannes next Saturday. (Shh – Let’s not tell DH about this fantasy.) I’ll not be meeting my word count that day. (A girl can dream, right?) Instead of writing 100% of my word count for Saturday, I can give that day a weight of 0%. If I know in advance certain days will not receive my full attention, I can assign those days a weight of 25%, 50%, 75%, or whatever. The tracker will adjust the word count totals for the rest of the calendar accordingly. This makes managing goals guilt-free when daily objectives are not met.

The bottom line? The Write Track can be tailor made for any author. Whether for compulsive writing challenges or maintaining a steady pace on a WIP, a tool that tallies your word count progress can make reaching goals easier and more gratifying.

Hop on over, explore the sight, and give it a shot.