Your Writing Questions Answered

How Word Count Trackers Can Make You More Productive

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on March 20, 2013 in Productivity & Organization
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I'm a big fan of any tool that can help me get more work finished in less time. One tool freelance writers might not think to use is a word count tracker. (By the way, we offer two free word count trackers here for our readers.)

But word count trackers are more for authors, right? Sure. They're great for tracking your progress on a book. But there are also plenty of ways you can use them with typical freelance projects.

For example, you might use a word count tracker to:

  • Work toward blogging word count goals for the week or month;
  • Track word counts for e-books for clients or marketing;
  • Document your monthly word count for total magazine submissions you write;
  • Note word counts across all of your projects as a whole to see how prolific you are each month.

How does tracking your word count potentially make you more productive?

  • It lets you break large projects up into smaller, more attainable goals so they're less intimidating.
  • Reaching daily or weekly word count goals can keep you motivated -- small successes lead to larger ones.
  • You can track your typical progress and turn it into a game, always trying to beat your most productive period with higher word count goals.
  • A word count tracker can help you hold you accountable if you publish it on your own website or blog for others to see.

Do you use a word count tracker? What kinds of projects do you use it for (or what projects would you consider using one for)? Do you share your word count trackers publicly or keep that data private for your own evaluation? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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6 Comments

  1. Anne Wayman March 21, 2013 Reply

    I use Word’s tracker and keep an eye on it during most of my writing – usually out of curiosity. I also use it when I’m creating a 10 word purpose for a writing project… have found 10 words or less really focuses me on what the project is all about.

    • Jennifer Mattern March 21, 2013 Reply

      That sounds like an interesting use for tracking word counts Anne!

  2. Lori March 22, 2013 Reply

    Not a bad idea. How does it differ from Word’s built-in tracker?

    • Jennifer Mattern March 22, 2013 Reply

      Word count trackers are project-specific and they can be used no matter what software you write in. They’re more about publishing and sharing your long-term progress on goals for accountability, which you can’t do in Word.

      Or what I like to do is have several of them in a private place where I can look at my progress on several projects at once — blogging, the novel, a short story, and a children’s book were the latest ones going on at the same time.

      With Word you can’t visualize anything. It’s just the data. It works well if you know you want to hit a target in a writing session, and you keep checking that as you go along.

      Word count trackers let you see it in terms of a visual progress bar, and as a percentage of your total project goal.

      • Lori March 25, 2013 Reply

        Thanks, Jenn. That sounds pretty good to have around.

        • Jennifer Mattern March 25, 2013 Reply

          I talked to hubby about maybe putting together a more advanced one here. I don’t want to run one as a service from a technical perspective, but I’d like to make it a bit easier for people to update them. Right now they have to come up and get new code for each update. If the code is saved on my server, people should only have to add it to their sites once. Then when they come back to update it, it should automatically update on their site. We’ll see though. He’s a busy guy these days, and I’m already planning to pull him into a few projects. Yay for tech geeks! :)

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