NaNoWriMo2010 50000For those who are not aware, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, when writers (from all over the globe, despite the name) commit to starting a new novel on November 1st and write 50,000 words of a first draft by November 30. Obviously, the main  point is to create a community to encourage and cajole each other into getting it done, but they also offer a tool which I found to be hugely important. This tool could get me over a hump when my internal editor was threatening to drag me into her world, prematurely:  the word count graph.

Maybe I just love a ‘ladder’ – I am a list maker – but I found the the graphs helpful because they were satisfying, they made me want to stay above that line!

After NaNo, I wished that I could keep using the site in the same way and for multiple projects but, of course, I couldn’t – fair enough, too, bandwidth for that kind of thing is expensive – even Storycraft crashes once a week, just after the chat, and that’s just to read posts! For months after NaNo, whenever I found myself thinking that the graph might help spur me on, I googled for word count apps. I found a few basic word count metres but nothing like the NaNo graphs and stats – until, finally, I hit on Write Track.

Write Track was designed by one  David S. Gale, himself a NaNo winner (2009) and married to one (2003.) David and his wife felt just as I did after NaNo but David had the skills to do something about it and put together a replacement, with some fantastic additions which take your non-writing life into account.

Here’s the Write Track basics:

  1. you register (free;)
  2. you create your own projects with your own target word counts and target dates;
  3. the software creates a Calendar for you, giving you the average that you’d need to write each day to meet that goal and;
  4. creates a graph ( a couple, actually) of your projected goal, which will gradually be overlaid in a different colour as you;
  5. enter your actual word counts each day – or every few days because you can enter the actual word count for any day at any time (as long as it’s not in the future.)

Sounds pretty good, so far, but David has been both clever and  considerate and made Write Track a little different to NaNo, because it’s not actually NaNo all year round and life only puts up with that “I’m doing NaNo, how much blood is there?” crap in November, right?  😀

After you’ve created your project and Write Track has created your calendar, you can click on a day when, say, you have/or had meetings all day and have/had to take the kids to hockey practice and won’t/didn’t get anything done till late at night. You can ‘weight’ that day as ‘25’(percent) or even ‘0’ and Write Track will adjust the daily targets accordingly, spread over all the days you’ve allotted, and give the day in question a 25% or 0% load of the total. Similarly, if you have a day when you know you’ll have the house all to yourself and will write well all day, you can weight that day at 200% and, again Write Track will adjust the target over the whole project. Weighting and recalculating over the whole project allows you to catch up, without your feeling you have to do twice as much the next day – it’s gentle.  The daily target will also help you to work out if you are pushing yourself too hard, or not enough, with your overall targets.

I don’t have any screenshots for you because David seems to be ‘just this guy, you know?’, not a software company so it’s not presented with a slick ‘features’ and ‘screenshots’ page, but it works wonderfully and he does seem to be constantly tweaking it. Write Track is free to use, with a tasteful, unassuming donation button, which I clicked and sent him $19.95, because I’d be happy to pay that each year as a subscription for such a service.  The previous sentence should make it clear that this is not a paid recommendation post  – you’ll never find those on Narrative Disorder – or Storycraft, for that matter, I wish people would stop asking – and I don’t have any ties to the Write Track or David Gale, I simply like the software and highly recommend it.

Happy Writing!