I made a thing: 2018 Word Count Tracker
“Anything you can track, you can improve.” If you’ve worked… well, anywhere, you’ve heard this horrid, trite business jingo. It’s right up there with “next steps” and other crap. Unfortunately, this one is true.
Last year I looked for a tracker that worked with how my brain worked; very easy, straight-forward, and able to track more than one project (because I’m scatterbrained and never work on just one thing). I couldn’t find one that worked. So, this year I made one in Excel. If I were a programmer instead of a writer, I’d have made an app. Alas…
It’s simple to use.
There is a tab for each month. The current month can be dragged to the front of the line to make it easily accessible. At the front of the line is a tab called “Progress.”
Word Tracker Progress Page
This is the main page that will tell you
- how many words you’ve written for the year
- the percentage complete per month and for the year
- how many words ahead or behind you are for how far into the year it is
- words per project per month.
All of this information just shows up. It is set to use the date, the goal you set, and the numbers you enter on the calendar pages to calculate all of this. You don’t enter anything on this page. Magic! (or Excel formulas, sometimes they’re the same thing.)
Word Tracker Settings Page
This is a set-it-and-forget-it page. It won’t give you a Ronco rotisserie chicken at the end, but Excel can’t do everything.
The fields in green are the only clickable cells on this sheet. In January, decide how many words you want to write for the year and type it into the “Annual Goal” field.
I know some people who shoot for a million a year. I am jealous as hell of the people who make it. Maybe I’ll try that this year… so I can stop being bitter. When I enter 1,000,000 into the Annual Goal field, the sheet lets me know that that is between 76,712 and 84,932 per month (the sheet takes into account the number of days in each month) and 2740 a day. Then I think bragging rights are not so damned important and lower the number. If you enter 611,740 for the year, that’s NANOWRIMO pace for the whole year. Entering 365,000 for the year is 1,000 a day. That’s completely doable and will yield six 60,000 word books a year.
Would you be willing to give up an hour a day to have enough words at the end of the year to fill six books? Counting words is about consistency, not killing yourself. Build the habit. Shoot, you’re busy and can only give 30 minutes a day? Set the goal for 182,500, write 500 words a day, and have three books at the end of the year!
Consistency is the key.
Use the two fields for each month to enter the name of the projects you’re working on. Those will auto-populate to the calendar page for that month. If you are more disciplined than me and just work on one thing at a time, leave the second one blank and don’t use the field on the calendar page.
Word Tracker Calendar View
All you need to enter on this page is your words every day. If you are using a Mac, I highly, highly, highly (you get the point) recommend the word counter I talked about in this post.
When you get to this page, all you have to do is enter your words. The project names you enter on the Settings Tab will automatically be here and as you enter your word-counts, the progress page will keep track and let you know how on-track you are.
So, so easy.
Like I said, I needed a tracker that made sense to me and was very easy to use. This is what I came up with. I hope it will be helpful to someone else out there.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.