I’ve just started a new job, which means I haven’t had much time to work on a post for this week, so I thought that I would just share the writing tracker that I put together recently to keep an eye on my writing habits and word count goals, and maybe some of you will find some usefulness in it, as well.
There are other trackers like this out there, including browser-based ones (like Pacemaker), which may have functionality that this sheet doesn’t have, but what I like about homemade solutions is just how malleable they can be to our individual needs. Yes, I want to track my word count, but I also want to track my hours, so this spreadsheet has the option for you to put in your start and finish times for daily writing. I’m also really enjoying the “Notes/Next Time” column, where I can jot down how I felt that day–stuck, depressed, run down, absolutely brilliant–and make a note about my goal for the next writing day. I’m finding that this tiny piece of additional mindfulness is actually quite impactful to my work for a day.
While I’m new to this level of granularity in my tracking (I’ve been counting words in isolation for ages), I can already see how the addition of a time metric is helping me stress less about gross word count in favor of quality time spent sitting at the desk or keyboard. (As Neil Gaiman put it in one of my favorite writing mantras, when you sit down to work, “You can write, or you can do nothing, but you can’t do anything other than write.”) At the end of the year, having both word count and time spent to hand will hopefully help me draw some helpful correlations to keep learning about my own best practices. That’s ultimately what this is all about: word count is all well and good, but how do we make those words better over a writing career?
So, without further ado, here’s my own homegrown writing tracker for you to do with as you will. There’s a sheet with some basic instructions inside the document. Put some pivot tables on it, make a new column or delete unhelpful ones, get creative, and above all don’t get bogged down in any of this. Remember, metrics are tools, so the moment you feel that they’re hindering you, abandon them. Let me know if you use the tracker, and how you adapt it to your own workflow! What other trackers do folks out there find they enjoy?