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The Big Damn Writing Tracker!

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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.

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16 Comments

  1. That’s really cool, until I started seeing your tweets about what your word count is for the day or week, I never thought of keeping track. But it does seem like a great motivator. And your spreadsheet is frakking badass. I’m totally going to use it. Thanks, Miz Trout!

    August 8, 2013
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  2. Thank you for putting together such a nice tool for us! 😀

    I downloaded it and do want to ask, which version of Excel you used? I tried opening it up in my 2007 version and got a page from dropbox, haha!

    August 8, 2013
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    • Wait, you downloaded the .xls file and it was a dropbox webpage?!

      August 8, 2013
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    • tracy
      tracy

      what I saw was a web page asking me if I wanted to download the .xls or add it to my dropbox folder. Maybe you should try again.

      The spreadsheet is beautiful. Makes me wish I was a writer.

      August 9, 2013
      |Reply
  3. Katie
    Katie

    The timing on this is PERFECT. I’ve just recently been trying to get into writing more (mostly fanfic for now, but ya gotta start somewhere, right?) I usually check my word count at the end of a session, but I hadn’t though to actually keep a running tally. Freaking brilliant.

    Thank you! 😀

    August 8, 2013
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    • Katie
      Katie

      Just wanted to say that before adopting your spreadsheet I was writing maybe a thousand words a week, if I’m being really generous. Since using the spreadsheet I’ve been averaging 1,000 a day, and today I hit 2500. This may have been precisely what I needed to get my ass in gear and actually work on writing instead of just thinking about it. So thanks again. You rock.

      August 14, 2013
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  4. I just want my muse to come back so I can write again. I think she got left behind in Ohio when I moved back to Michigan. My writing has suffered greatly this year. Stupid depression.

    August 8, 2013
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  5. Love it. Much nicer than what I was using before. Thank you Jenny!

    August 9, 2013
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  6. Zee
    Zee

    I am in love with this idea!

    But why did you have to call it a tracker? I have too many of those at work. It’s like handing me a silver bracelet, and telling me it’s the 49th shade of grey 🙁

    August 9, 2013
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    • zee
      zee

      I take it back, it’s amazing! Thank you! Will start using it from tomorrow, since you started it on a Monday and all 😉

      And I love your choice of quotes!

      August 11, 2013
      |Reply
  7. Dairenna
    Dairenna

    I’ve been reading your “50 Shades” recap and decided to finally comment. First: THANK YOU for the recaps. There are not enough cookies (or anything else) in the world to give you for recapping that…thing. Now I can tell my friend who might be curious and read the damned thing not to because it’ll trigger the hell out of her.

    Anyway, onto the reason I’m actually commenting.

    There’s an online tracker that you might (or might not) think is pretty cool. You can set a word goal, set how long you want it to take you to complete that goal and you get this funky calendar that automatically updates as you write. It keeps track of daily word goals to get to your overall goal and there are performance reports and charts that are savable (I’m still messing with this, it’s where your excel sheet is superior as you can save it without relying on a website). You can even edit each day in case you forget to update every day. And the graphs are a cool visual. It’s http://writetrack.davidsgale.com if you’re interested.

    August 15, 2013
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  8. […] you want something more weekly and specific, then you might like Jenny Trout’s Big Damn Writing Tracker spreadsheet. It even has quotes in it to keep you motivated to write as you’re recording the […]

    May 10, 2015
    |Reply

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