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Thursday, December 31, 2015

How I Track My Stats*

Let's talk about writing stats...

I posted my stats for 2015 and there were some questions about how this actually works. I use the Sticker Method, which isn't new and wasn't invented by me, but it works for my personality.

Writing is a long process and putting a sticker on a calendar appeals to my need for instant gratification. One sticker equals one thousand words. In 2014 I started tracking my editing the same way, with one sticker equaling 10,000 words (~ 20 pages) edited. Besides giving me instant gratification, a sticker chart like this lets me see at a glance what my writing pattern has been like for the last few months.

July on the bottom and September on top. The stars were edits, the circles were words written.
I can look at August, July, and June and see Thursday was not a good writing day for me. Most Thursdays in the summer months I wrote half of what I normally wrote, or didn't write at all. Looking at October and September I can see Mondays were not good writing days.

August and June... The first two weeks of August were filled with back-to-school prep.
Why those days? Because of gymnastics. In the summer my kids had gymnastics on Thursday, during the school year the classes are on Monday. Which also tells me most my writing was done in the evenings, and that an after-school class for my kids was interrupting my schedule.

This is not stuff I would remember. I've tried Excel sheets and writing journals, but they require pulling something out and writing something down. My calendar and stickers are in the pullout drawer of my writing desk and it takes all of 30 seconds to pull the drawer out, stick a sticker on the paper, and move on.

Will this work for you? Maybe.

I've found this method is good for reminding that I am doing work, even if I'm editing. Sometimes the word count of a manuscript is reduced dramatically in edits and that can be discouraging. The sticker method allows you to see the progress you've made. It allows you to see your habits. Maybe you don't write on birthdays (looking at my calendar I can see I don't), or maybe you don't write on the days where you're supposed to bring coffee to the office, or on date night. Maybe you only write when your morning is free, or your evening (like I do).

October was a really bad writing month. There are lots of gaps, especially on Mondays.
Being able to see your habits allows you to either modify your behavior (I now see I need to get my daily word count in before 2pm) or to modify your schedule to make room for your behavior (if you're a morning writer you could try getting up earlier or never schedule brunches).

Give it a try, let know what you think, and remember that you only need to write 400 words a day, five days a week, to write a novel in a year. So if 2016 is the year you've decided to write a novel, grab yourself a stack of 90 stickers and get going!

* This was originally posted on my FB author page

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