2013 is here and it’s time to think about the future of my writing and how to go to ‘the next level’.

Looking back at 2012, I realized that I was very project-goal orientated.  In other words, my productivity was tied to the project I was working on.  Often, I created for myself a wordcount goal for that project and, using Scrivener’s Project Targets feature, would then have the program automatically tell me how many words I needed to write each day in order to complete my project by/on the specified date.  Which worked great, don’t get me wrong.  However, there were days when I wrote more, or less, and didn’t have to really worry about it because the program would change my goals for the coming days and I could just move on.  This means that, really, I was all over the place wordcount wise.  One day I might hit 500.  The next, 3500.  It didn’t matter, though, cuz it all worked out in the end.  Or did it?

See, I’m thinking it would be better for me, long term, to be consistent with a daily wordcount that I have to hit no matter what the Project Target tells me, because those targets are great but they allow for me to be less disciplined than I aspire to be.

Think of it like this: if I have a project goal of 100,000 words and Scrivener tells me I need to write 1,160 words a day in order to make that goal, well, I can always ‘make it up’ on the weekend if I don’t hit my daily goals during the week.  Scrivener will just recalculate for me and give me a new goal.

But, if I tell myself I have to write 3,000 words every day no matter what, and there’s no recalculating, no chance to ‘make it up’ later, how will that change me?  Change my habits?  Teach me discipline?  Before, if I was tired or grumpy or just didn’t feel like writing, that’s fine – I can always make it up later.  But now, there is no later.  Now, I’m treating it like the work it’s supposed to be.

I’m (dare I say it?) treating it like a profession, not a hobby or a side-gig.  I’ve built skills and discipline, but, again, I want to take it up a notch.

To that end, I’ve built myself a ‘Daily Fiction Wordcount Worksheet’ in Excel (fig 1):

Daily Wordcount Worksheet screenshot 1

Fig 1

The idea here is simple; I have a different tab for each month in 2013, and a row on each tab corresponding to a day in that month.  The Goal column is where I set my daily goal, in this example, 3,000 words a day.  I have columns where I can work on multiple projects (I probably won’t, but I wanted the room just in case), and then list my word count for the day.  The ‘Total Words Written’ column totals my words up and the ‘% complete’ column tells me how I did.  Now, those are all about individual days, but I also have some ‘high level’ stuff to let me see where I am for the month and the year (fig 2):

Worksheet average totals

fig 2

In fig 2 above, you can see:

  • Monthly Wordcount – This totals up the daily word totals for the month and gives an ‘at a glance’ view of where I stand.
  • Monthly Goal – This is the sum of my daily wordcount goals.
  • % Complete – This tells me what percentage of my monthly goal I’ve hit / where I stand.
  • Monthly Daily Average – This takes my total words for the month and divides it by the total number of days for that month to give me an average wordcount.  Especially useful if I’m not hitting the goal each day, or am going over.  I can use this to adjust my goals for the following months.
  • Yearly Wordcount – This totals up each month’s written words so I know where I am.  Appears on each tab/month so it is an ongoing total as I move through the year.
  • Yearly Daily Average – this takes the Yearly Wordcount above and divides it by 365 to give me my average daily wordcount for the year.  Again, this is an ongoing total but a worthwhile number to track and be aware of.

For the purposes of this worksheet, I will only be counting actual words of fiction – not synopses, ideas, outlines, etc.  But that’s just me.  You can do whatever you like.  That’s right, I’m giving you this spreadsheet.  You can use it for your own writing in 2013 and adjust it however you like for your own needs.

The spreadsheet is available as a free download.  The original is an XLSX, which means you’d need a more recent version of Excel in order to work with the file (2007-2012), but I have also created an XLS version if you don’t have or don’t want to invest in a more recent version (should be good for 2004 and earlier).  Believe me, I only have one because I lost the install discs to my old Office for Mac version :P.  The differences in versions is mostly in themes/colors (as far as I am aware), but better safe than sorry, so you have 2 versions to choose from.

Again, you can download this spreadsheet here:

Once you DL it, it’s yours to modify as needed.  Good luck!  And if you like the spreadsheet, or find it useful, consider clicking the donate link below (or in the sidebar).

Now, since I’ve set myself a goal of 3,000 words a day of fiction, and I’ve already blown several days this month, I need to get writing…

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  • Paul (@princejvstin) Posted January 8, 2013 4:35 am

    Thanks, Patrick!

  • Shadowcat Posted January 9, 2013 10:14 am

    Thank you Patrick this is something I can use to keep me on track for John’s “23 in 13” challenge for my RPG scenario writing.

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