Writers: How Do You Track Your Progress?


After years of trying out several different ways to track my writing progress, I think I’ve finally found the one that works best for me…

… which may not be the one that works best for you, but in case it is, I wanted to share.

When you’re drafting, keeping track of writing progress is easy. Each day your goal is generally to get down words. I used to keep a running list at the top of my Word document of my word count each day so I could see my progress every time I opened it up. This worked fine, but later (after NaNo-ing) I realized keeping my daily word counts in Excel made far more sense as I could easily calculate formulas within the cells to see not only total word count, but word count per day, averages per day, and how many words per day I’d need to write to reach a goal.

But when you’re editing … how do you know how you’re doing?

When I’m editing, my goal is not only to shorten my story (some people edit with the goal of adding; as I’ve yet to have a first draft clock in under 100K words, mine is always, always to cut) but to fix its problems, rewrite scenes to make them stronger, take some stuff out, put some stuff in, etc. So word count isn’t a good indicator of progress. Case in point: I spent three hours revising the other day and my word count at the end of it was almost the exact same as when I started.

So that’s how I measure progress when editing: time. Each day I log the number of hours I spent working, and try very hard to work in hour-long chunks with minimal interruptions so I’m not cheating. Then I enter time spent into my same Excel sheet.

And on days I did no work at all, I make a note as to why (“day job trying to kill me” or “bridal salons”). This way when looking back I can get a pretty good idea how I’m doing with editing weekly. I think it will also make a kind of cool thing to look back on, like I can say to myself, “Am I getting as much done this February as last February?”

So that’s how I’m tracking my progress. How about you?

Image found here

4 thoughts on “Writers: How Do You Track Your Progress?

  1. Much like you, editing is about cutting down and much of it is rearranging so that scenes work together. The writing and editing progress is more about time spent doing it so I use that as a marker. As long as I keep working through it I know I’m getting there. The end can be a bit nebulous.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am trying so had to keep my writing progress, since now I’ve been very into writing more than ever. But its kind of hard to keep and set the right time because of school and others work I need to do. This post help me to figure it out a little bit! Thankyou!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m still trying to pin down a good way of tracking editing progress, but I keep a very similar notebook that notes what I was working on, and what else was going on at the time. I have to have some indicator of progress, or I wind up in ruts where nothing happens.


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