The other day, I noticed something astonishing. Since January 1st of 2013, I have written over three hundred thousand words.
Obviously, I ran straight to Twitter to report, because twitter or it didn’t happen, right?. My tweeps were astonished– not by how much I had written, but by the fact that I knew how much I had written.
When I got my start writing, I was a part of a critique group. We reported our daily and weekly writing totals to each other via an email loop, so from the very beginning, I’ve always taken meticulous care to note my word counts (well, in the beginning, it was page counts, but stay with me). It never once occurred to me that other writers weren’t doing this, as well.
I thought about sharing my spreadsheet to show exactly how I’ve got mine set up. But mine is like, super depressing and not fancy at all. I thought, well, Troutnation is so nice to me, I’m going to do something nice for them. Or at least for a small subset of them who are interested in writing and logging word counts obsessively in a spreadsheet. For the rest of you, there are donuts in the conference room.
So, here is this thing I made: My Big Damn Writing Tracker. You’ll need Excel, or any other program that opens .xls files. I made it on Excel, so if it’s all shitty and messed up in something else, I apologize, but Excel is what I have to work with. Anyway, the basic instructions are, you put in the projects you’re going to work on for the week where it says to (I’ve left space for up to three projects at a time, because who really works on more than three projects in the same week?), then every day, you’re going to enter your word count for those projects. At the end of the week, you’ll see how many words you wrote, total, and how many words you wrote per project.
There is also a Year To Date box that will keep track of all the words you’ve written in the year. You don’t have to wait until January 1st to start using it, as the weeks aren’t dated. There are fifty-three weeks in the sheet (in case you’re anal about time keeping and don’t want to miss that .2 week during a Leap Year), and I’ve included quotes about writing from writers in all forms of media. And also The Doctor. Because I can.
At the end of the year, you can copy the sheet and start over, while retaining the record of your amazing feat from the previous year.
So, there you go. Use it however you want, if you want. I find that being accountable to a spreadsheet helps keep me on track, productivity wise. I hope some of you find this thing helpful, too.