Since the new year began, Melissa has been telling everyone how well her tally system has been working for her. Recently, Kate started keeping track of her word counts in a pretty day timer she devoted to the task. I myself have gone back and forth with a few methods. During the last few NaNo stints I participated in, I printed out the calendar month and kept track of all my stats on it. This worked well for that month, but I didn’t want to waste all that paper year round. Plus it’s kind of a pain to keep track of the paper and cart it around. And, I had no long term place to safeguard my writing data.
I have a calendar devoted to writing events and dates on my wall, yet the thought of writing my word counts and projects on it kind of gave me a headache. I know I’d lose track of the relevant dates on it because I wouldn’t see them amid all the numbers and titles. I also didn’t want to devote my personal daytimer to the task of writing record-keeping. I already keep track of too many things in there. I’ve also gone the two-daytimer’s approach, devoting each to different aspects of my life. One grew woefully neglected.
I didn’t want to devote a journal to it either, because I knew I needed something that was constantly visible on my desk in order for me to remember to update it. I’ve got a log notebook on my desk 24/7 for another purpose. Two was too many. So, I decided to go the electronic route. I found a well designed, aesthetically pleasing excel spreadsheet that would handily keep track of my weekly/monthly/yearly word goals and realizations. Guess how many times I’ve opened it up since downloading it? Yeah, back to my “I need to see it to remember to do it” issue.
Can you tell I’m nit-picky?
Just when it seemed like all hope was lost, I came across an adorable little binder while waiting in line at Staples. I bought it because it was adorable and I couldn’t resist. Then when I got home I asked the big question: what the heck was I going to do with the damn thing? It was too small for anything useful note- or art-wise. Eventually, with the teensy binder sitting on my desk, it’s usefulness hit me. Its size was ideal for tallies, summaries, and title jots.
Thus, my Word Tracker was born.
The moral of my story? Writing is a finicky business, and data tracking of your progress and growth is a finickier subbusiness. Do I think you should do it? Yes. Do I think you should enjoy doing it? Yes, but most of the time you won’t. Do I think you should devote an inordinate amount of time finding YOUR best means of data tracking? Obviously, because if you do you might stick with the task. And of course that translates to writing more, and more often.