Wordcount Trackers

Sunday 1 February 2015 by

Every time I do NaNoWriMo, there’s a part of me that wishes I could keep up that level of writing all year.

Okay, that part of me is crazy, because NaNo is exhausting, and it’s just not manageable when you work a full time job as well as trying to get your words on a page. But there is something to be said for the amazing motivation I feel at trying to hit a wordcount, and having a little graph that tells me how well I’m doing, and having to submit my words every day.

This year, partly to try and motivate myself, but also out of interest – I want to know how many words I write – I’m keeping track of everything I write in an excel spreadsheet.

And because I worked in IT for a few months and learned how to use Excel properly, I went to great lengths to make it shiny.

I’ve programmed the word counter to track my words in a number of ways. First off, there’s a visual element to see how well I’m doing in a glance on a day by day level. If I write less than 500, it shows up red, 501-1000 the cell turns yellow, 1001+ it goes a nice happy green. It will also go green if you put words in, so when I was ill for a few days, I just stuck the word ‘ILL’ in the cells, and they show up green, as an acceptable excuse for not writing anything!

Word count tracker, Writing, Creative, Microsoft, Excel

The word count tracker also tallies a total by week. There are some weeks that are only two/three days, because I set it up by month, so it can be used year after year without editing the coding, but you can pretty easily see if you are beating the previous week’s word count. Which if, like me, you are competitive, can be really motivating. I was so annoyed when I missed out on beating the previous week’s total on January Week 4.

I also included a total for the month, for the same reasons, and a countdown on the very end column against the total planned words. I’ve always found the countdown thing to be very motivating (though not so much when you have that many words still to go!!) and it helps you keep in mind the progress you’ve made so far, and what you need to do every day to achieve your goals.

By the way, 185,000, which is what my total planned word count is, may sound utterly insane, but it’s actually just over 15,000 words a month. I would have hit that this month easily, if I hadn’t been ill for four days. I still have two days to go at time of taking this snapshot, and I’ll probably hit 13,000 by the end of them.

The total word count goals come from a second sheet on the spreadsheet, on which you can input the projects you’re going to be working on and how many words you think they’ll need. Mine’s gone off the rails already, because I’ve already written 10,000 words, but I’m nowhere near finishing the book…

(Also, 185,000 words by July? I think I must have had alcohol before putting that target in.)

Word count tracker, Writing, Creative, Microsoft, Excel

But here’s the thing – the formulas are all tied together. So if you want to switch around your goals or add a new one, you change them on this sheet and it will automatically pull through onto the other one. The only thing that’s not linked in by formulas is the Deadline Column, which is there for reference only.

I love the clever things you can do with programs like Excel that can help you get motivated. Yes, making this did mean two days of not writing, but I definitely think I’ve been more productive for having it, and I’m looking forwards to having a clean run of no illness (hopefully) in February to see if I can consecutively beat my previous weeks’ counts.

And if I really get into it, maybe 185,000 words by July isn’t so out of reach!

(P.S. If you’d like a copy of the spreadsheet, just message me on Twitter, and I’ll get the template across to you.)

You can follow Loralei on Twitter: @LAHaylock

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  1. Intentions #1 - plasticrosaries.com - […] to make use of the fantastic Word Count Tracker that the ever so clever Lorelai wrote about at House…

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