Progress Bar charts – the means to motivate a writer

I’ve decided I need a progress meter to keep me writing. I need to be able to visually mark off the number of words I am writing a day and remind myself of any progress made, otherwise I’m going to quickly run out of motivation.

So, I’ve created my own, NaNo inspired, charting system. I simply type in my current word total and my spreadsheet automatically updates two handy little graphs – one showing my current word count increase on a day-by-day basis and another that charts my daily word total throughout December. It even has a little box to keep track of my average daily word-count. (Okay, so I didn’t actually create the spreadsheet: I asked my deliciously handsome fiancé to do it for me…and, that’s enough grateful flattery for him!)

A Current Snapshot of my Writer's Progress Spreadsheet

A Current Snapshot of my Writer’s Progress Spreadsheet (click to enlarge)

I now seriously believe that part of my success with NaNoWriMo is seeing that bar chart visually map my progress with increasingly tall bars. It’s so satisfying, and when I see a blip in the record it makes me pout. It’s an unusual, but productive, method of motivation and reward on the same screen. It is slightly shameful how excited I get by being able to type in a new figure and then watch with glee as the bar chart updates with a nice incremental curve. It makes me glow.

To make it even more motivational I’m planning to post weekly snapshots of my graphs on this blog – possibly to replace my Saturday teases from NaNo: although I may post a paragraph or two of the novel as I go too, just to prove I’m not cheating and fiddling the figures!

I figure I need some accountability – people who expect me to write and will notice when I don’t and call me on it. I’m fortunate to have found a couple of very decent writerly friends who have played such a role during November, and now request they continue to (gently) remind me to keep up to my side of the pledge made. I’ll keep plugging away at my novel, watching those bars rise to create a sky-scraper city on my screen, and my writing buddies will keep nudging away until I finally find those alluring words again – ‘The End’.

I don’t know which I’m more excited about: the creation of a beautiful upward curve of a bar chart tracking my progress, or the story of the characters in the novel…Fortunately they’re not mutually exclusive goals, so I can have my bar chart and eat the novel too (no, wait, that’s not right is it?! Who cares?! I’m writing my book AND being a nerd about it too – joy!!).

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7 responses to “Progress Bar charts – the means to motivate a writer

    • I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. But last year in NaNo I was struggling to get the word count, whereas this year I had a chance to really think about things and realise the graph was an element of the competition that I really responded to.

      It’s a little strange that a graph can increase motivation – do you think it would work the same for household chores?! 8oS

  1. Preeetttyyy!!

    I love charts too. I can’t typically do daily word counts based upon the way I write, but I keep track of how many hours I spend on different aspects of writing (research, thinking, reading, actual writing, etc). I posted one about a month ago.

    Very cool, Cat. Keep it up! It IS very satisfying to see progress.

    • Where do you think I got the idea to make my own from!? 8oP Graphs and Charts are great, I love seeing my progress marked out. It was also very interesting to see your stats, so keep recording and give us an update occasionally!
      Thanks for the support and encouragement (and for continuing to read!). x

  2. I hadn’t even considered a post-NaNo spreadsheet until you mentioned it. You’re full of good ideas!

    It’s important to feel like you’re making progress and this visual representation rather than a nebulous sense of “getting towards the end of the novel” is something I think we all can use.

    The Lumb genius strikes again.

    • There is no such thing as Lumb genius – it shows that you haven’t met any members of the Lumb family! 8oP My genius is entirely fabricated and borrowed from various places across the inter-web.
      What do they say? – There’s no such thing as an original idea? I concur. x

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