Track Your Word Count for Writing Success

Skye's Word Count

My word count chart for the past year. Check out the end of this post for a downloadable chart of your own!

When you think of NaNoWriMo, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it’s the word count. And after that? The daily goals.

During NaNoWriMo, we obsess over our word counts. Did our daily word haul put us above the Line of Doom? How many words until we meet our daily target? How much more do we have to write to win?

With all this focus on word counts and tracking them, you would think that continuing to track your word count after NaNoWriMo would be pretty common. Not necessarily so.

In the lull that so often follows the NaNoWriMo rush, we forget about the advantages of tracking our daily progress. We associate word counts with the month-long rush to write as much as possible. But there are several advantages to keeping tabs on how much you write each day that have nothing to do with NaNoWriMo. Here’s exactly why you should track your word count over the course of days, months—even years…

Motivation

If you know you wrote 400 words yesterday and 680 the day before, you’re more likely to want to write today as well, to keep that streak going and prevent those lonely 0s from creeping in. You want to fill that chart with lots of numbers and see your overall word count rise, just as you do during NaNoWriMo.

Your daily target doesn’t have to be as high as during NaNo—it might be to write anything, it might be to write 500 words or it might be to write 1000. Whatever is comfortable for you.

Accountability

Tracking your word count keeps you accountable. It’s so easy to brush off not writing for one, two, three or more days in a row if you don’t keep track of your writing sessions. Before you know it, a week’s gone by and you haven’t written a word.

If you have a spreadsheet with your daily word counts on, it’s obvious when you haven’t written and you’re more likely to hold yourself accountable for not writing.

Habit Formation

Because you’re keeping tabs on your word counts, you’re more likely to write regularly, to see those spreadsheet cells fill with numbers, and because you’re writing regularly, you’re forming good habits. Not only do good writing habits mean you get lots written, they also make writing easier. When you’re practised at sitting down to write, the words come more easily, you get into the flow of writing faster, and you know your story all the better.

Pride in Yourself

Each day you fill in your chart with more numbers and see how much you’ve achieved, it feels good. Knowing exactly how much you’ve written gives you a more concrete sense of progress, motivates you and fills you with pride. Because it feels great, you want to continue writing, and so the cycle goes on.

Over to You

So, are you interested in tracking your daily word count? If so, here’s a gift from the Sprint Shack ladies: your very own word count spreadsheet. Download a copy for yourself (click ‘File’ >> ‘Download as’ >> ‘Microsoft Excel’ for a copy) and keep tabs on how much you write over the rest of 2014!

~

Do you know how much you’ve written so far in 2014?

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9 thoughts on “Track Your Word Count for Writing Success

  1. This is so awesome, Skye! I’ve always admired your colorful spreadsheets!

    I did about a month last year in which I tracked my word counts on my blog, but it was nothing like this. I really think I want to set up one of my own… thank you for providing the download link!

    I thought you won NaNo last November, though? How is your word count for November under 50k? Do you only track certain words in these spreadsheets?

  2. Oh right! That makes sense. I’m wondering if I should track only my fiction or my other writing, as well. OR if I want to be really anal about it, I could keep separate spreadsheets and one master spreadsheet… hmmmm…

    • I keep separate spreadsheets because Pedantic and Perfectionist are my middle names and I like to track everything (comes from being a stats nerd, I suppose) ;) I’d suggest at the very least a fiction spreadsheet if you’re primarily a writer, rather than a blogger, and if tracking one set of word counts goes well, you could always introduce another :)

  3. I made a much less pretty-looking spreadsheet of my own at the beginning of the year to track my daily word count, as well as my monthly and year to date totals. I think I’m somewhere near the region of 200,000 words for the year so far.

    • 200,000? Wow, that’s incredible, Heather! Keeping track of how much you write and knowing what you’ve achieved so far is one of the best motivators, I’ve found. What do you think? :)

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