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If you’re reading this post, it means you were probably looking for my Word Count Tracker Spreadsheet that I had been offering for sale for several years. I’ve also received several emails asking for an updated version of my Word Count Tracker Spreadsheet, so I figure I would provide this update.
The TLDNR is that I’m no longer using that spreadsheet, so I’m no longer having it updated. And I don’t want to sell something that I’m using for my writing. Below, I’ll update on what I’m using to track my word count goals, and offer some alternatives for you.
Word Count Tracker Spreadsheet (Background)
Writing, much like any other art form, requires dedication, practice, and a touch of discipline. One of the most effective ways to hone your craft is by setting clear, tangible goals, and what’s more tangible than the number of words you pen down each day? This blog delves into the significance of tracking your daily word count and how it can transform your writing journey.
It’s what helped me be more productive with my writing (14 published novels and counting), so I’m a true believer in setting project word count goals and daily word count goals to meet that target.
Benefits of Tracking Daily Word Count
Consistency in Writing: The key to mastering any skill is consistent practice. By setting a daily word count goal, you’re committing to write regularly, which not only improves your skills but also keeps your project steadily moving forward.
Motivation and Accountability: Watching those word counts climb each day is incredibly satisfying. It’s a visual representation of your effort and progress, serving as a motivator to keep going, especially on days when inspiration seems to be on a vacation.
Measuring Progress: It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a large writing project. Breaking it down into daily word count goals makes it more manageable, allowing you to see your gradual progress towards the finish line.
Identifying Patterns: By tracking your daily word count, you may begin to notice patterns in your writing habits – what time of day you write best, which environments boost your productivity, and how your mood influences your output.
The concept is simple. You set a daily word count goal which you try to hit every day. I first learned about this from Stephen King, who famously writes 2,000 words a day. He wrote about this in his wonderful book On Writing.
Many other writers do this. On my podcast, “Meet the Thriller Author,” I’ve interviewed over two hundred authors. Including legends like Dean Koontz, Walter Mosley, and Lee Child. I always ask if they set word count goals. And just about every single one answered yes. So this is an important strategy used by bestselling authors, so I too would do this in my writing process.
Developing my Word Count Tracking Spreadsheet
I’ve tried just about every software program, word app, and spreadsheet out there to track my word count goals. Even though my writing software (Scrivener) had a word count tracker built it in, I found a spreadsheet helped me even more. I started with a basic word count tracking spreadsheet, then kept trying others with more features. Unhappy with what was available, I decided to create my own spreadsheet. There was an enormous obstacle for me to overcome, though. I knew what I wanted on my word tracking spreadsheet, but to achieve that was well beyond my Excel skills. So, I posted a job on Upwork and hired an Excel programming whiz to create my dream Word Tracking Spreadsheet.
I shared it with writer friends who love it. So, I decided to put it up for sale. My primary goal was to recoup my out-of-pocket cost of paying the Excel whiz to create it. To my surprise, I sold way more than I thought I would. Every year, I would hire the Exel whiz on Upwork to update the spreadsheet, and would offer that spreadsheet for sale.
By mid-2022, I found myself not using it daily, like I used to. And I used other forms of tracking my word count goals (more on that in a bit).
By the end of 2022, I knew I wouldn’t be using my tracker anymore, so I didn’t have it updated for 2023. It was abrupt, and I didn’t let anyone know, so when I got messages asking for the 2023 version, I felt guilty. As 2023 ends, I won’t be using the tracker next year either, so I will longer be selling it. So I wrote this post for previous customers, or folks who found my tracker whilst searching online for one. I figured this is better than a 404-error page. I also wanted to provide some alternatives and share what I’m doing now, since, yes, I still track my word count every day.
Tracking my Word Count Now
As clear from this post, how I track my word count might change, again. That’s the main takeaway from all this. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just that you’re tracking your word count will help you achieve your writing goals. I know writers that track their word count longhand on a notebook.
Currently, I’m using the word count tracker in Scrivener. They really amped up the word count tracker a few years ago, and it’s fantastic. I found I no longer needed the spreadsheet.
Using this tool, you can easily set writing goals by setting up your word count goals. Then you can manage your writing schedule so that you can meet those goals.
You can get more detailed information about the Scrivener word count tracker from the Scrivener website. But here is the quick lowdown on it.
To track word count in Scrivener, you can:
- Go to the Projects drop-down menu
- Click Project Targets
- Use the keyboard shortcut command shift T
- The pop-up window will display two bars
- The top bar shows the word count for the entire manuscript
- Click in the number box after the word “of” to set a goal for the manuscript
- Press Enter/Return
- To see the current word count, look at the footer while writing
- To see the total word count for multiple texts, select them in the Binder
You can also hover over the Quick Search bar to see the word count and progress bars.
I enable notifications so it alerts me where I’m at with my goals. My daily goal is 1,667 words per day. If you’re familiar with Nanowrimo, you’ll know that’s how many words you need to write a day to hit 50K. My manuscript goal is 50,000-60,000 words for my thrillers, so that’s a nice goal to try to write a novel in 30-45 days.
One of the best online tools to track word count is Pacemaker Planner which helps you plan out your entire year and manage multiple deadlines without spreadsheets. I recorded a video and wrote about using Pacemaker Planner and it’s fun features to write a cozy mystery novel in less than thirty days.
Word Counter App
I love this app! It’s Mac only (sorry). It sits on my computer and tracks my word count on all apps (Chrome, Scrivener, Text, etc). And it generates beautiful graphics to help visualize it. It’s only $19.99. Like Scrivener, that’s a onetime fee, not those annoying yearly subscription plans.
Keep on Tracking and Writing
As mentioned before, there are many ways to track your word count. Try the one that works best for you. If you miss my Word Count Tracker spreadsheet, feel free to update it. If you can’t do this yourself, you can go to Upwork and hire someone to do it for you for around $50. Feel free to use one of my old spreadsheets and just tell them to update it for 2024.
Good luck with your writing!