Tuesday Toss-Up

Every Word Counts When You’re Writing a Novel

Word Count Trackers for NaNoWriMo and Beyond

TypewriterWriters everywhere, newbies and old hands, are staring down the barrel of NaNoWriMo. *cue tense theme music*

At the moment, I’m wading hip deep the first draft muck of my work-in-progress. I don’t know if I’ll be joining the ranks of psychotic intrepid ink-slingers in November but I am learning the value of a monthly deadline, even a self-imposed one.

My goals are considerably more modest than the 50,000 words in 30 days NaNoWriMo goal. I’m aiming for 13,000 words monthly which works out to 500 words daily for 26 days of the month. Though I’d ideally write more, this allows me a doable goal and the option for a day off when I need it.

In September, I added 16,900 words and used three of my four allotted days off. To keep myself both encouraged and honest, I’m keeping track with two word count tools.

StoryToolz offers several resources for authors, such as a readability analyzer, cliché buster and random conflict generator as well as the word count meter. Once you create your word count meter, you can copy the HTML code and paste it into your blog’s sidebar or a post.



The meter updates automatically when you add words and you can also see your word count history with the progress chart.


WriteChain is an iPhone app which can also be used on the iPad. As far as I know, it’s not currently available for Android OS. WriteChain allows you to set your daily writing goals and “coast days,” the number of consecutive days off you can take without breaking your “chain.” You create links in your writing chain for every day you write.

I love that this app lets you set unique goals, whether it’s a personal goal of 50 words or a NaNoWriMo goal of 1667 words. Adding words is extremely simple and you can edit your session history to correct any days you forgot to add. The coast days feature lets you decide how many days off you will take in a row (be careful, more than two can result in a loss of momentum) so that you don’t have to feel overwhelmed by a nonstop work schedule but the chain, much like the badges on the 750 Words site, gives you incentive to not let too many days slide by.

NaNoWriMo, of course, offers fantastic tools for keeping track of writing stats but WriteChain and StoryToolz can be used anytime. Whether you take the NaNoWriMo plunge or not, having a fun way to track your writing sessions may keep you motivated to hit those word count goals, whatever they may be.

Are you gearing up for NaNoWriMo? How do you like to keep track of your daily word count? What’s your favorite way to get motivated for writing sessions?

Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Typewriter by toastytreat87, on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Word Count (mine)
Progress Chart (mine)

6 thoughts on “Every Word Counts When You’re Writing a Novel

  1. Hi Sonia! I’m not much of a numbers or fast-draft gal, but I love the fact that there are so many great options for writers. I get motivated by sitting my butt down to write, and have finally learned the value of rest and breaks.

    Congrats on your ongoing progress! And thanks for introducing us to nifty tools. 🙂

  2. Great title! And it’s great to hear about your progress. Don’t you just love all the tools we have at our fingertips? I’m writing my novel in Scrivener and project targets can be set: a manuscript target for total words and a target date to finish the manuscript. Each day Scrivener calculates a session target. It adjusts up or down, depending on how much I wrote the previous day. I like it because if I miss a day or don’t make the target, I can carry on with a new number.

    I participated in NaNo last year for the first time and I’m so glad I did. Before NaNo, I wrote when I had “extra” time. Last November I discovered that I could find the time if I really wanted it, and I developed a daily writing habit. Motivation for a session? Knowing that I only have a few hours before bedtime (I work full time during the day).

  3. Thanks for sharing, these tools sound great! I am a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to apps, and I have a Blackberry which is quite limited. However, I will check out Storytoolz because it sounds helpful. I will be participating in NaNoWriMo, although I was dithering about it a little when I realised how close it is. I need the discipline! By the way, I found you via Alex Laybourne’s blog and I might just keep in touch. The power of social networking eh? ; )

  4. @August: Great points. I’ve definitely learned the value of “butt in the seat.” Even if I can only squeeze out a few words. It keeps me going day to day.

    @Darla: I love Scrivener! I haven’t figured out how to set session targets yet though. LOL. I’m actually writing longhand right now. It seems to be jogging more loose than working at the keyboard. It seems to go back and forth though.

    @Alex: Thanks for the reblog!

    @David: I have an Android too. The StoryToolz are actually online so you can use them from any device. I use WriteChain on the iPad. Maybe we can generate enough interest to get WriteChain available for Android. That would be awesome.

    @MrsGreen: I do love the way blogs and social media connect us. I’ve found so many great blogs through other blogs and Twitter. LOL. I’ve heard that it can be helpful to prepare for NaNo by setting bigger and bigger word count goals in Oct. I’m still trying to decide whether it’s a good idea to put the WIP on hold and work on something new for NaNo. I hear it’s such an amazing experience.

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