Why and how you should track your writing – 3 powerful ways

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track your writing

Have you ever gotten into bed and wondered what you accomplished that day? Chances are big that you have encountered such a moment on a fragmented day. A little task here, a little time there. Hop to the store quickly, and write a few words on that article. During such a day, you feel like you are going nonstop, but you feel like you have nothing to show for it by the end of it. You are simply losing track. 

When you track your writing, you gain insights into your statistics which, in return, can boost your productivity. You have an overall picture of the number of words written, and you will see exactly which projects stay behind. This helps with time management and future planning. 

By tracking your writing, you are doing yourself a big favor. Read on if you want to know more about the benefits, and find out how you can track your writing.

Valuable inside information

By tracking your writing, you are giving yourself valuable information. From anything to where you are with your project to how much time you spend on each. This data will tell you which genre comes more naturally to you.

Do not underestimate the value of these insights. When you plan to become a published author, your agent or publisher will ask you how much time you need to write your next page, chapter, or book. You need to know how long it takes you in that genre to make a rough estimate.

track your writing

Tracking your writing is not just about word count. You can also add what time was used working, thinking, zoning out (read: get trapped in the never-ending rabbit hole called Youtube), and how it made you feel to add extra value. You might find out that you have been writing at the wrong time of the day and that you will become a lot more productive if you switch it up. 

You can also add events that might have influenced your writing. Think about writing after a workout or, for us girls, during your period. Maybe this boosts your creativity or slows it down. When you know, you can adapt. 

Gaining momentum

If you want to become better and faster at your writing, you need to do it regularly. A routine will give you momentum, which helps you create the right pathways in your brain to become even better at it.

If you are interested in finding out how that works, you can check out my article with tips on how to write every day right here:

When you track your writing, you know exactly where you stand, which will help you plan your next steps. When you see your word count grow steadily, you will get a motivational boost to push on.

There is a reason that so many people are wearing a smartwatch nowadays. People love stats. It feels like a pat on the back when you exceed yourself, and it makes you competitive when you are staying behind. Have you ever decided to go for a short walk or run in place to get your 10.000 steps in? Now imagine that but with writing.  

It encourages you

Another piece of valuable information you will get by tracking your writing is how much work you have really done. There can be days or weeks that you have to switch between projects nonstop, and it looks like you are not getting anywhere. While in reality, it might have been one of your most productive weeks ever. That is a free motivation for you, right there.

track your writing

Instead of feeling horrible, you look at your spreadsheet and realize you have written two articles instead of one. No wonder your creative story did not grow as much. You did a lot more than you thought. Be proud!

Tracking your writing time

track your writing

It is easy to say that you will write an hour every day. You open your laptop, your WIP (work in progress), and set your alarm. You write a few scenes and hit a point where you need to research. You open your browser and accidentally click on the Instagram icon instead of Google. You are about to steer away from it but suddenly see that cute cat video. Oops. 

If you want to strengthen your writing routine, you need to know how productive you truly are and when you are getting the most out of your time. So instead of saying I wrote 1200 words in an hour, dive a bit more into it. Your stats might look something like this:

  • 00:00 – 22:00 – Writing: total word count 673
  • 22:00 – 25:00 – Staring at the page 
  • 25:00 – 32:00 – Writing: total word count 889
  • 32:00 – 40:00 – Looking at Facebook
  • 40:00 – 48:00 – Writing: total word count 1019
  • 48:00 – 51:00 – Checking my text messages
  • 51:00 – 60:00 – Writing: total word count 1203

Depending on your average word count, you think 1200 words in an hour might be productive or not productive. When you write your time down as above, you will find out where the problem lies. In this case, you wrote 46 minutes out of the hour. If you put your phone on silent or turn social media off, you might have gotten more out of that time.

The insights from tracking your time might feel painful at first, but once you get over that, you realize that you can take action to make your writing time even more productive. This will help you build a stronger routine and eventually make you a better writer. 

Tracking your word count

track your writing

The dark stormy clouds of November gather together. The wind howls as the rain is smashed against the cold, slippery cobblestones. All around the world, thousands of people awaken at the crack of dawn. Millions of liters of coffee are being poured, and then one laptop after the other is turned on. NaNoWriMo has begun.

If you are an avid writer, you probably entered NaNoWriMo once or twice in your life. The aim is simple: write 50.000 words in November. Many people dive into it with much enthusiasm and scream in glee, or horror, as they watch their word count grow each day. 

Tracking your word count can be an amazing motivation. It helps you with goal setting and turns something huge into a bite-sized assignment. I mean… if you would tell me to write 50.000 words in one month, I might as well faint. But if you challenge me to 1700 a day, I will shrug and say that it is on. Psst. A little secret. 1700 words a day is 51.000 words in a 30-day month. 

So, if you plan on writing a novel of roughly 90.000 words, and you know your average word count a day, you know how long it will take you to write it. And that is amazing now, is it not?

Not a word count type of person? Do like Stephen King and aim for 6 pages a day.

Tracking your writing days

track your writing

The key to a habit is constancy. If you are not used to writing every day, it is better to focus on that first. View it as training for a marathon. You might be able to run 5K already, but doing that day in, day out is not as easy as it sounds. You need to build it up.

So instead of focusing on writing 1700 words a day, or two hours a day, focus on writing every day first. Set your goals low, but make sure you achieve them every day. If even for 5 minutes or 50 words. But make it a streak. Every single day for about two months. 

It takes between 28 and 90 days to build a new habit. So when you make it something small and achievable, it will become easier to make it a habit. See how long you can go without breaking your daily streak. Once you are comfortable with that, increase the stakes. Make it 20 minutes a day for every day, for example, or 500 words. Whatever you choose, make sure it stays enjoyable. 

If you find that you struggle with this, make yourself a nice little visual. Put a calendar on the wall and cross off the days, put stickers on it, and reward yourself when you reach milestones. Make it fun. 

 There are two plus points in this technique. One, you will be working on your manuscript every single day, and two, you are building your habit. Win-win!

Do what works for you

Tracking your writing can be extremely motivating and give you tremendous insights. It can also create a lot of pressure and anxiety. It is most important to feel comfortable when it comes to writing and writing techniques. If it does not work for you, toss it.

If you want to track your writing, there are many ways to do it. Just take my advice… keep it enjoyable. You are an amazing writer, and you got this!

Sources: KotobeeSandra Gerth

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