Using word count is a great way to track your writing progress and stay on top of your writing goals. It’s a lot easier to write that novel if you break it down into bite-sized, manageable chunks. Remember last week’s post? I mentioned that even if you only have 30 minutes a day for writing, you can still accomplish a great deal. If you wrote just 500 words in those 30 minutes you’ll have 15,000 words in just one month. That’s a quarter of a short novel! This is fun, right? Let’s look at another.
Let’s say you set a word count goal of 2,000 words per day. (This, by the way, is Stephen King’s daily writing quota)
2,000 words x 30 days = 60,000 or ONE NOVEL
That’s right. A novel’s worth of writing in just one month. Okay, I know that there’s more to a novel than just churning out some words, but it’s definitely a first draft.
These counts are useful for any type of writer: fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry, screenplays, essays; whatever your little writing heart desires.
So let’s get started. First, choose a number you can live with. Yes, it would be great to write 5,000 words per day, but it’s probably not sustainable over a long period of time. You want a word count you know you can manage on a daily basis. That way you won’t be tempted to give up because you find yourself missing your goal too often.
Here are the counts of famous authors to inspire you. For more, check out this blog post.
Jack London wrote 1,500 words per day
J.R.R. Tolkein wrote around 245 words per day (LOTR was an 11 year project)
Ernest Hemingway wrote only 500
Michael Crichton clocks 10,000 per day
Obviously, there’s quite a range, so don’t feel compelled to copy your favorites; just do what works for you.
The next thing you’ll need is a good way to track all this writing. If you have a Mac, you can try this fantastic new app by Christian Tietze. This little prize can:
Right now, it’s being offered for an early bird discount of just $9.99 and it’s worth EVERY PENNY. (Full disclosure: I found, bought, and used this app on my own. I have no association with the developer, nor do I get any benefits if you buy. It just plain good, so I’m telling ya!)
I’ve tried it out for a week and OH MY GOSH, it is the best thing ever. Granted, I had two kids with wisdom teeth out in mid-week, so my counts look pretty shoddy, but I could actually see my progress. I’m visual, so the charts and calendar really help me. Here’s a screenshot of this week:
I far exceeded my word count expectations on two of those days without even realizing it. As I progress through weeks and then months I’m confident I’ll begin to see where my “weak” days are and learn to tweak them so I can produce more.
In addition to the monthly progress chart I can get a real-time view of my progress as I move through the day with a pop-up I can activate on my desktop. Here’s what today looks like so far:
Currently, I have my cursor pointed at one of the time slots, so it’s showing my output at 12 pm. You can see there is a logo for “Google” and one for “Pages”. The app is tracking my words across both platforms so I can see what I did on each. When I’m writing in WordPress, the word count shows up in the “Google Chrome” area. If I am writing in Pages, it will show up there. This lets me track different projects easily.
You can even create folders to hold different types of work and track the progress of each. In the example, below, I created a folder to hold my fiction writing. This makes tracking my efforts across all of my projects easy to monitor!
The app does not currently have the capability to store Pages documents in the Files Monitoring section due to restrictions by Apple, but Christian is trying to resolve this as quickly as possible. To me, it’s a minor inconvenience because the real workhorse power of this app is in the daily and monthly trackers.
Finally, take a look at the example I got from the official press kit. Notice all the different programs that are being tracked, including Scrivener, a top-notch program for writing and keeping yourself organized.
Because all words written in each of the different platforms are shown in this pop-up, it offers a quick reference for your daily progress. The handy pie chart lets you see the percentage of time you spent in each different area and the itemized review gives you a quick look at the word counts for each. In addition, you get a bar chart that shows your momentum throughout the day, giving you peaks and valleys that you can use to tweak your day for more productivity.
Any way you slice it, this app ROCKS! If you’re a writer, it can really amp up your productivity and help you stay on track with your latest projects.
Give it a try and let me know how you like it!
See you on the next page!