I suck at tracking my book writing goals. I know measuring my writing progress will help me write more, but this shit is hard, and I don’t care for hard stuff. I like easy.
Ordering take-out is better than slaving over the stove. I watch Netflix because it doesn’t make you press Next Episode like a chump. I’m the fool who pays for pre-washed boxes of pre-chopped salad.
But I still do hard things.
I whine about them (just ask my husband). I stomp my feet and forget that I chose to be an entrepreneur, and manage my own business and the writing deadlines that come with it.
Still, in an ongoing effort to improve myself, I’ve done three things this week to help me get better at tracking and hitting my book writing goals with less stress. If you struggle with this too, these steps might help.
1. I read Finish by Jon Acuff
I picked this up (metaphorically—I got the audiobook version) after hearing the author, Jon Acuff, on a podcast. He was funny. I mean, literal laugh-out-loud funny.
I like laughing. And I always struggle to finish a project. I get it done, but it’s a painful slog, so this seemed like a good book for me.
AND IT WAS!
I’m about to listen for the second time so I can really absorb everything he says. I love that his lessons are rooted in an actual research project. It’s not that, “This worked for me so it’ll definitely work for you” crap.
Check it out and hear him talk about tracking your progress. He makes it sound fun, which is a refreshing change from other authors who I want to throttle as they cheerfully cheep, “What gets measured, get’s managed!” I know, already.
2. I downloaded the free trial of Prolifiko
This week, the Creative Penn Podcast featured an interview with Bec Evans from Prolifiko. Prolifiko is an app that tracks your writing progress and coaches you to complete your writing goals. Sounds like exactly what I need.
There are lots of goal tracking apps around, but I was drawn to try this one because Bec Evans said so much brilliant stuff in her interview.
She talked about creating small goals you can actually achieve, to motivate you to reach your bigger goal. She said we should have fun with our writing goals. Shocking idea!
These are the same thoughts Jon Acuff covers in Finish.
I signed up for the app about five minutes before writing this post, so can’t comment yet on its function. I can tell you there’s a 30-day free trial here, then it’s 5 quid a month (about $7 USD).
(If you’re wondering, I wrote “quid” because I couldn’t find the symbol for a British Pound on my Canadian keyboard. #expatproblems)
Want to hear how it goes? In 30-ish days I’ll give you my review of Prolifiko. Click here to get that review. You’ll either have a good ol’ belly laugh reading about my public failure, or you’ll be inspired to reach your own writing goals. Win-win for you.
3. I created a book project tracking spreadsheet
I plan my projects very well at the outset. I have to because I write for other people. I need to give my clients project completion dates and an idea of what to expect when. I outline due dates and milestones in our agreement, so they have a clear understanding of what our work together will look like, and what they’ll get when they trust me with their ideas.
But the middle of a project? Well, that’s a shit show.
Not for the clients, of course. I put a lot of effort into ensuring they’re cared for, feel confident and in control, and understand what’s happening at each stage of the project.
But down in the writing trenches, things ain’t so pretty.
I can’t remember what chapter we’re up to without looking it up.
I don’t know my total completed word count without going through each chapter and typing the numbers into the calculator, which taaakes fooooorever.
And I always manage to hit the divide button instead of plus right before the end, and have to redo the whole thing. Then I forget if I’ve used the word count from version one or two of each chapter and have to do it all a third time. Messy.
An incredibly talented and fun copywriter called Jacq Fisch inspired me to get my ass into gear when she sent out her own book project tracking spreadsheet. It was a gift to her readers to help them track their progress in NaNoWriMo.
I realized I needed this in my life to set better goals and track my progress, as advised in Finish, the Creative Penn podcast episode, and every other piece of advice I’ve ever heard from anyone.
What’s the tracking spreadsheet look like?
Everyone’s writing process is unique, and Jacq’s spreadsheet wasn’t exactly what I needed (check it out here to see if it’ll work for you), so I took her brilliant idea and designed my own. I wanted mine to help me:
Track if I’m on target to deliver milestones to clients (so I don’t end up panicking one week before a deadline and have to work 28 hours a day that week),
Figure out how long it takes to outline, write, and edit, so I can more accurately set deadlines for future projects, and
Feel good when I’m in the writing trenches, enjoying mini dopamine hits each time I check off a chapter.
So my version tracks:
• Chapter deadlines,
• Chapters completed,
• Chapters sent to the client,
• Feedback deadlines requested from the client,
• Feedback received from the client,
• TKs (extra details I need to add in later),
• Hours spent writing each chapter,
• Average words per hour,
• Average hours per chapter,
• Hours spent editing each chapter,
• Average editing hours per chapter,
• Average total time per chapter (writing and editing),
• Estimated hours required to finish the book,
• Percentage of book complete, and
• Percentage of book remaining.
Get your free book tracking spreadsheet and Prolifiko review
I’m going to share my free book tracking spreadsheet with you. I just need a bit more time to convert all the fancy formulas from Apple Numbers to something more people can use, like Google Sheets.
(If I had it my way, the whole world would use Apple Everything, but some people insist on using free online tools that work just as well. Damn you smart asses.)
I tried converting the file today and it looked real ugly, so I need to spend some time on it. But if you want the free spreadsheet to track your book writing process, stick your email in the space below, and you’ll get it first.
In 30-ish days, I’ll also send you a review of my experience with Prolifiko.
Wow, that’s some accountability right there. Now I have to step up and actually use the thing!
I will, and if you sign up for email updates, I’ll tell you how it goes. I’ll also send you 15 writing tips from today’s top entrepreneurs, and more cool stuff about writing for your business every week.
Goodies galore. Stick your email address in that space below.