As we are coming down to the last hours of 2015, now is a good time to set some goals for the coming year. I’ll be writing more about my larger goals next week, but today I want to share a few suggestions for keeping track of your daily progress in the new year.

I have found that developing a regular writing practice is necessary for finishing a novel. I know that sounds self-evident, but I can’t tell you how many would-be authors I’ve met that don’t actually write on a regular basis. Writers write. If you only write when you “have the time” or “feel like it,” the odds of ever actually seeing your words in print are pretty low. A regular writing habit is what propels a person from wanting to publish a book to actually publishing a book.

There are many ways to track your daily word count. If you are competent with a spreadsheet, you can easily keep track of your words per day, but that would probably be fairly simplistic and, if you are anything like me, will probably not motivate you to continue to keep track of your progress. I’ve found these tools very useful and worth the effort of downloading.

Jaime Raintree’s Writing and Revision Tracker

Jaime has been developing her tracking spreadsheet over the last five years and it gets better and better every year. The spreadsheet lets you set your monthly and yearly word count goals for up to 8 projects. As a person that works on multiple projects at a time, I like to be able to see my progress broken down by project. She has also included a separate tracking mechanism for revision. This addition is great for those months when I am not producing as many new words as much as I am revising the words I wrote the months before. I also appreciate the graphic display of my progress. There’s something about watching a graph grow that keeps me motivated to write more consistently. The spreadsheet was developed in Excel, but it works great in Numbers if you are a Mac user.  Jaime charges $5 for the spreadsheet and it is well worth it.

Ink On

If you are the type of writer that tries to sneak a few hundred words in between work and family obligations, Ink On might be the tracker for you. It is an app for your phone or tablet that helps you keep track of the time you spend on each project with an easy to use timer. You can also record how many words you added to each of your projects each day and see your results in a calendar mode. If your goal for the year is to write a certain amount of time per day, I would recommend this app. ($2.99)

WriteTrack and Susanna’s Pacemaker

I discovered WriteTrack after I finished Nanowrimo 2014. I enjoyed the way the tracking widgets for Nano kept me motivated and was looking for a way to keep up the momentum. Both these programs operate by having you set challenges for yourself. You set your own start and end dates for a project and give yourself a word count goal. The neat thing about WriteTrack is the ability to weight days within each challenge. If you know you will be writing more on Tuesdays and less on Fridays, you can weight one day at 60% and the other at 0% and the program will adjust your daily targets. You can set up as many challenges for yourself as you’d like. Susanna’s Pacemaker lets you design your goals to your own work style. If you tend to start off strong and write less and less as you get closer to the goal, you can set up your daily word count goal to reflect that. Also, Pacemaker can be exported to iCal and Google calendar.   (Free)

Write On and Write On Lite

Write On is an app available for the iPhone and iPad that allows you to write and keep track of projects on the go. The full app is $4.99 where the Lite version is free. I would download the free version and see if the format works for you, then download the full version to access all the functionality. This app would be great for those of us that are trying to write our novels and stories in bits and pieces on our phones or tablets because you can write a little here and there, then send it to your computer to be added to a larger project file.