Beyond Word Count – Other Ways To Log Your Writing Progress

I’ve made a case for logging your word count to keep yourself accountable, to give yourself a pat on the back, to encourage consistency and good writing habits.

But it doesn’t have to be word count.


Setting a word count goal makes sense if you’re working on a novel and want it finished by X date.

It also makes sense if you want to become a faster writer.


It might not make sense to set a word count goal  if you’re still struggling to create a writing habit. Or if you’re writing flash fiction.

And what if you’re int he editing (or marketing) phase of a project, but still want to feel productive?

In these cases, you might want to to track the number of days on which you worked, to see how your writing practice is becoming part of your life.


Set a goal for the number of days a week that you will Write Something (or Work on Project X).

  • Use the ‘butt in chair” column or the “hours spent editing” column in your StoryADay Writing Log.
  • Any day when you work, just type the number for the time spent, in that new column.
  • If you want to get fancy — set up conditional formatting to turn the cell green when it finds that text in the field).

If you like to keep your logs in a more tangible form:

At the end of the month, step back and gaze at the ‘heat map’ of your work progress. Hopefully there’ll be enough ’stickered’ days to make you smile. If not, make a commitment now to do better next month.


If you can make an unbroken chain of those days that’s great. But bewarE! Setting so high a bar can backfire. What happens the first time life gets in the way and you miss a day? You feel terrible. You get demotivated. You quit.

Rather, I’d suggest setting a goal to write on a certain number of days a week.


At the end of the month, look back at your log see how much you achieved and if any patterns emerge (are weekends good or bad for you? Do you write more when you’ve had more sleep? When the kids are in school?). You can see where you might make changes or improvements.


Again, try to not use the log as a weapon to bludgeon yourself with guilt. Use it to analyze and study (and to face) what’s really going on.  Try to increase your goal a little from what you actually achieved this month (not some abstract and possible unrealistic ‘ideal’).

Whatever type of log you choose, use it to keep yourself accountable, spur positive changes, and reinforce good work habits.

Because all of these things get you closer to where you want to be: writing.

Are you logging your writing days or word count? What methods do you use, and how do you use it to help you progress? Share in the comments, below!

Week 2 – How’s It Going?

Well, this has been an interesting journey so far.

In a week and a bit I have gone from …

Well, this has been an interesting journey so far.

In a week and a bit I have gone from

  • Being super-excited and a little nervous, to
  • Awkwardly writing the first short story I’d written in ages, to
  • Figuring out how to get into the meat of the story faster, to
  • Feeling like I was never going to be able to launch myself into a new story every day, to
  • Realizing story ideas were everywhere and that all I needed was one interesting sentence or question or moment in reality for a story to flow from it, to
  • Struggling with real life, carving out time to write, to
  • Noticing that I am really happy and productive in other areas of my life when I do write, to
  • Noticing that I am a bit of a witch if circumstances conspire to keep me from my writing, to
  • Coming to terms with the fact that even in a challenge like this, there might have to be the occasional day off, to
  • Looking forward to getting back to writing again after a day off.

I have written every day except Mother’s Day on Sunday, when I spent my writing time doing site maintenance and lining up writing prompts for the coming week (Note to self: if I do this again, I’ll get a month’s worth of prompts ready before Day 1. I also wish I had more blog posts in my back pocket, rather than blog ideas. I was waiting to see what people’s challenges were, so I could blog about that, but in reality, where did I think I was going to find the time? Even this post is robbing Peter to pay Paul).

I am really enjoying reading everyone else’s comments both on the Twitter feed and at the site.

I love reading everyone’s comments on other people’s stories and making them myself. It forces me to read things critically and pick up tips for my own writing. I find that difficult to do in a vacuum.Freckles

So, in short, I’m loving doing the challenge and I’m loving the community aspect of it. Big thanks to everyone who is turning up and trying.