Writing Advice: Managing Progress

I like spreadsheets. If there is a place, there will be a spreadsheet. And writing is no different. I have in the past recommended an app called Writeometer that I used to manage my writing progress and now I have started a new book once more. However, when I went to download the app again, I found it no longer existed.

Just starting a new book and already falling at the first hurdle I was very downtrodden. So, what to do? MAKE A SPREADSHEET OF COURSE! Now I’d like to share how I track my progress which shall be a half writing blog and half maths blog so you’re in for a treat aren’t you (it’s not that much maths).


First what is your target? It could be chapters or pages or scenes. I track my progress using both words and scenes because I plan my book by scenes and words are much more accurate than using pages in my opinion. I aim for 200’000 words because it’s probably a bit long so I will finish the book before I get there but also, I know how much I write so I need to aim high.

Then decide how many words you can write in a day? Be realistic, it’s nice to challenge yourself but choosing a target that you will never reach day in day out you’ll only make yourself upset. I can do two thousand words on a good day. So then, from this you can work out how many days it should take you to write your book (days = total word count/words per day). Now if this target seems too tight you can obviously change it. There are no hard and fast rules of course, you know you own abilities best.


I then diarise these days in a spreadsheet so I can see how many words are written per day and measure how far I am from my target (% target = actual word count per day/target word count per day).

Now onto scenes. I never plan to write a scene per day because my scenes dramatically change in size – 1st scene was 10’053, 2nd was 7’243 and the 3rd was 1’012. But this means I can keep an eye on how much of my book is complete, given I have no idea how long it will actually be in terms of words, but I do know how many scenes there should be. I list the number of scenes there should be and then put 1s beside them as I complete them and total that up at the bottom (% scenes completed = total completed scenes/number of scenes).

I also, just to be that little bit extra, colour code my completed scenes by how good I feel they are. Green for good, orange for needs a bit of work and red for definitely needs a rewrite. It’s all to help when I come round to editing them.


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