The Magic of Word-Count Graphs

I am not generally a particularly fast writer.  But in November, which is National (or International) Novel Writing Month, I can consistently pump out 50,000-60,000 words in 30 days.  This is my sixth year accomplishing this feat, and despite the high word count, it's always been good-quality draft.  I have never been able to write so much in any other month at any other time of my life.  So I got to thinking about why.

Part of it's the togetherness of it, the belonging to a group of people with like goals, the support from the organization and friends who are doing the same thing. 

But another big factor, for me, is one simple thing:  the word-count graph.  On Nanowrimo's website, you can update your word count as often as you want (and I often do it more than once a day).  It shows your progress on a nice little bar graph and calculates how far behind or ahead you are.  It's magic for me, this visual representation of concrete progress on a concrete goal.  So I thought:  why not try to apply the same thing when it's not November? 

I did an internet search and found an application I'm going to try:  It lets you set goals by word count, by scene count, and various other measurements.  You can also set different pace styles:  steady, front-loaded, increasing, random, etc.  You can set it for higher workload on weekends or other days.  It tracks your progress with graphs.  It seems like it might be a great tool for me.

So I'm going to test it this month and report next month.  In Nanowrimo, the goal is words.  I got my words in November:  58,000 of them.  But I didn't quite finish the novel.  I calculate there are about 15 more scenes I need to write.  So I'm going to try pacemaker by scene count, and finish by Christmas.  We'll see how it works. 

If any of you know of similar word count trackers you've used and like, please add them in the comments below.  Happy writing!

Update, 1-3-16:  See my report here:  Pacemaker Press--A Word Count Graph

Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go Nomad, International Living, Electric Spec, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at


Karen Cioffi said...

Melinda, this is great information. I'm ghostwriting a MG fantasy and need around 35,000 words. This writing tool will help me keep track of how I'm doing. Thanks for sharing!

Shirley Corder said...

Congratulations on being a winner at NaNo, Melinda. I have also completed it six times, and you're so right. The challenge and the togetherness is great, and it keeps you writing.

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