Sometimes you need to let your analytic side sing. I accept that my left brain needs a little zing from time to time so, I decided to put it to good use in service of my creative side. Instead of worrying about how my NaNoWriMo novel is shaping up, I let technology help me.
You may need to search no further than the NaNoWriMo website. Other NaNos are all to happy (like me) to share their useful tracking methods throughout the various forums.
Spreadsheets—your best bet
Circulating through the Nanowrimo-sphere and in he internet beyond are several tools to help with tracking your Nanowrimo novel. Since, I use a MacBook Pro and several iOS devices, I can’t comment on PC, Windows or Android devices
- NaNoWriMo Report Card: This Excel spreadsheet is my favorite.As far as I know, no one has come forward to claim authorship. The spreadsheet includes three tabs: the main report card including nifty pie chart, a progress bar graph and morale bar graph. I’ve updated this template for 2015. Download it here.
2. NaNoWriMo Daily Targets: NaNo participant Steven Knight created this simple Excel spreadsheet. It is a strictly to-the-point venture. No bells and whistles so you’ll have less distraction. For the Keep It Simple crowd, this works. Download the Excel spreadsheet here. A Google Docs version is here.
3. NaNoWriMo Calender by Smoakes: NaNo participant Smoakes created this nifty Excel Spreadsheet. Another straightforward spreadsheet that gets the job done. Download it here.
An App For That—maybe
If Smartphone apps are your thing, a few apps may fit the bill. I’ve downloaded and tried several from the iTunes app store. As a committed iPhone user, I acknowledge my complete ignorance of Android device apps. Unfortunately, implementation and the extra effort of writing in one medium (computer) and tracking progress in another (smartphone) may be more trouble than it’s worth. Worse, it may take up valuable NaNoWriMo writing time. As of 10/29/15, out of three apps only one received reviews with 3 out of 5 stars or greater:
- Wordkeeper by E-leet Solutions. Pricey at $4.99, this attractive app stores word counts of multiple projects in list, chart and graph formats. The app includes a session timer and syncs between multiple iOS devices including iPAD and iWatch.
- Word Count Dashboard by AFK Creative: This is a Mac OS X app ($1.99) and iOS for iPad ($1.99). It boasts large colorful graphics for simple, unadorned feedback on multiple projects.
Which is best?
For sheer calculating power, as well as visually stimulating graphs and charts my vote for the best tracking tool is the NaNoWriMo Report Card Excel spreadsheet. I used it for my 2012 and 2013 NaNo wins. My only caution is that it can become a time-sink. Use it wisely, grasshopper—for that way goes word wastage.
Watching those numbers rise and the pie chart fill can be addictive. So make a promise, do not to check every hour or even 2 hours. Shoot for no more than three times a day, like after meals (you DO need to eat). You’ll glad you did.
If anyone has a favorite tool for tracking NaNoWriMo progress, I’d love to hear about it. What do you use?