Keeping track of wordcount. NaNoWriMo participants, take note!

I caught a neat thing on MediaBistro the other day: a writing pacemaker.

Not something that will kickstart your writing if you slack off – man, there’s a golden ticket idea – but instead you input into Susanna’s Pacemaker your wordcount goal, your deadline (if you don’t have a deadline, it’s a good idea to make an internal deadline, by the way), and couple more options, and then you see a graph or table with your daily wordcount goal listed.

The tool is interestingly flexible; it asks you if you want to keep the wordcount steady every day or increase your wordcount a little bit daily as you go. It also takes weekends into account: are weekends days you want to take off, or will you binge write because you’re not at work? You can even ask for a “random” wordcount goal, and it will give you some days with a goal of 64, and other days with a goal of 1300. I wouldn’t recommend that for a project, but in theory it’s kind of neat.

It also has an “intensity” option, which has no description but I figured out means you can write steady and then binge at the end (low intensity) or write more every day and end up with a couple of days with 0 wordcount goal (high intensity.)

Me, I’m a slow and steady girl so I have a simple 45 degree angled graph. If I were a weekend binge writer, it would look like this. (The “write MUCH more” weekend option seems broken though, as it has me writing 4 words per week day, and 3000+ on Saturday and Sunday. I don’t think I could hold a story in my head writing 4 words a day.)

Susanna's Pacemaker: Binge writing at the start, then tapering off.

Susanna’s Pacemaker: Binge writing at the start, then tapering off.

I think what’s lacking here is a place to input your personal wordcount so that you can see how well you’re following your graph. If you write more words, it would be neat to see your dot above the projected graph for the day (and if you slack, the dot in the lower area would be good to shame.

Pacemaker is a neat tool, but I probably won’t use it because the Scrivener wordcount function is so robust now.

Scrivener wordcount

If you’re using Scrivener, I highly recommend this tool, as it helps you track your goal and automatically adjusts your word goal for the day based on how many words you have left to write. If I write 2000 words today, tomorrow’s graph will show that my daily target has dropped to 836.

Admittedly, I only know the Mac keyboard shortcut for calling up this tool – Shift+Command+T. From there you can hit “Options” to fill in all your information like wordcount goals and deadline.  You can learn more about this tool, and many other Scrivener tips, at Super Producer Patrick Hester’s blog.

There are other tools for when you want to spent time and effort keeping track of wordcounts and not writing, like I’m doing right now. One of my favorites is from Writertopia. They have several very simple tools to put your wordcount on your site, and all they ask is a link back. That’s WRITERTOPIA. They’re awesome.

We have the no frills picometer:

But if you feel like a writing potato, and who doesn’t, from time to time, you can go for the larger and more creative one.

The best part about the writing potato is s/he has moods:

There are eight moods in all; I won’t spoil them for you.

The toolbox page at Writertopia has all the information on how to put this on your site. It’s super ultra mega easy. All of the tools default to a goal of 50,000 words, but changing the goal is simple, and they explain the tiny tweak you must do to customize it.

Here’s the difference in the image tags: (included for reference)

And (included for reference)

Then of course if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, that site has its own dynamic tool that grabs your wordcount from the server. This won’t work any other time of the year, but since we are near NaNoWriMo season, it makes sense to include it for you crazy 1,667-words-a-day kids. Like the Writertopia widget, you just put a little image tag on your site: (included for reference)

(Huh. On editing this and reloading the page, I noticed that the image changes every time. Clever!)

Unlike Writertopia, you don’t need to update the image every time you write. So if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, this is the best tool. It’s also extremely versatile, where you can view your wordcount as a simple line, a calendar listing your writing days, a word war with another writer, or a word war with your region vs another region.

So there you have it, folks. I have spent a great deal of writing time procrastinating by researching these tools for you, SO YOU WON’T HAVE TO.

Now go write or something.

COMING SOON- I’m downloading a bunch of iOS and Amazon apps to track wordcount, I’ll review them here soon.

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