What Gets Measured Gets Done: Keeping Track of Your Writing

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Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a very structured person. I like to plot out my story, character sketches and GMC ahead of time. So for me it’s very important to keep some measure of how much writing I do. Those of you who are super-creative and gag at the thought of plotting ahead of time will probably run away from this post, and that’s okay. We all have our methods. Smile

There are many different ways in which a writer can keep track of how much they write a day, some of them being:

  • Word Count
  • Page Count
  • Time

I, being an obsessive weirdo, keep track of all of these. Below is part of my Excel spreadsheet:

 

WORD COUNT SPREADSHEET – DEMON CHARMED – JANUARY 2011

Goal = 1,600 Words per Day = 8 Pages

Date               Beg. Word Count / Page Count               End. Word Count / Page Count               Total Words/Pages for Day               Time

 

At the top of my spreadsheet I record the manuscript name, month and my daily writing goals. The goals are there to slap me in the face every time I think I’ve done enough writing for the day. No matter what I ‘feel’ like, I know I haven’t done enough if I haven’t met my goal. If I don’t meet my goal for the day, I know I’ll have to make it up sometime within the next week.

I start out every writing day with the beginning word and page count. At the end of the day I insert my ending word and page count, then record the total number of words and pages done that day. I also like to know how long it takes me to get there, so I’ll monitor and record my time as I write.

So how about you? Do you have a method for keeping track of your writing? I’m curious if anyone is using a method other than word count, page count or time. (Maybe you write a certain number of scenes per day?)

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12 thoughts on “What Gets Measured Gets Done: Keeping Track of Your Writing

    Ciara Knight said:
    January 14, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I go by word count, but I don’t utilize a spreadsheet for that. Although, I am looking for a better way to orgainize my mansucripts. Especially, character traits, plot points, backstory/history, etc…

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      January 14, 2011 at 10:36 am

      I guess it’s all about what works for you. I know there are programs out there that will organize all of that stuff, like Writeway and Power Writer. I personally find that printing them out onto paper and pinning them on my storyboard does it for me. 🙂

    Julia Rachel Barrett said:
    January 14, 2011 at 10:15 am

    OMG! You are so organized! I don’t keep track – officially. I check my word count every other day or so. I generally work in blocks of time – an hour here, two hours there. For me, two hours equals 500-1500 words.
    I make it a point to get a minimum of two hours in a day, barring anything unusual. Four hours would be great, but I simply don’t have four hours very often.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      January 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

      He-he, I only like to pretend like I’m organized, Julia. 🙂

    Rachel Firasek said:
    January 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I find that the only way I can get this organized is if I have a goal. So, I set a goal for writing, then I fast draft. Which is to work toward a goal page count of 20 PAGES PER DAY. Now, I normally, haven’t ever, hit that page goal, but I’ve come close on occasion and it did help me write a 30K story in three weeks. So, I can definitely see how tracking your counts would help.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      January 14, 2011 at 10:46 am

      I set big goals too, Rachel. 1600 words a day equals 11,000 a week. That’s a LOT, and I don’t always meet it. But it does keep the story moving along.

    Katalina Leon said:
    January 14, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I use a post-it pad to record daily notes and word count. I also make a note of the page number of my last chapter, so I can pace my story and know when to plan the next chapter break.
    Each WIP has its own post-it pad. Its simple but it helps me stay on track.
    XXOO Kat

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      January 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm

      Ooh Kat, what a great idea to make note of the last page of your last chapter. I’m constantly scrolling back to remind myself which page that was. Simple but effective!
      Why on Earth didn’t I ever think of that? 😦

    Maeve Greyson said:
    January 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Wow! You are SO organized. All I do is keep a yellow sticky note with my word count scribbled on it. How lame is that? 😉

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      January 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      Not lame at all, Maeve. You have it in front of you at all times and don’t have to open a separate program just to get to it. Like I said, I’m just a big weirdo when it comes to this kind of stuff. My OCD coming to the forefront. 🙂

    Charlotte said:
    January 14, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I (weirdly) write short fiction on the computer and write novels longhand. So I use word count for the one and usually page count for the other, totalled up once per week and translated into an approximate word count.

    The latter method is horrendously approximate, so I recently started trying to tighten it up by keeping closer track of the pages as I was going along. Seems sensible, until I started obsessing over the page numbers and watching the clock tick, realising I hadn’t got anywhere near my goal of 1000 words-per-day. The result was more stress and less writing.

    So, I’m going back to largely ignoring the page and word count except for the total-up once per week. Odd, because I usually love to plan and keep records, but writing seems to break all of my normal rules.

    Thanks for an interesting discussion.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      January 14, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      You bring up a really good point, Charlotte. The point of keeping close track is to help motivate your writing. If it does the opposite, then it’s of no use at all and should be thrown out the window. 🙂

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