Measuring Progress – Keeping a Log

“Accursed novel! Ye took me leg!” ~ Me on or about 11/28

I’ve just finished day 2 of NaNoWriMo and as is my way with any big writing project I’m keeping a log.

My writing log is just a file where I store the word count for the day along with the running total. I also include a few thoughts or impressions of the writing session and a sense of where the work is at overall. Essentially, it’s a snapshot of my feelings about the work.

Here’s today’s entry:

11/2 3,121 words for 6,759 total (13.5%) – Wrote chapters 3 and 4 and began chapter 5. Most of these chapters will end up getting tossed deeper into the book when I start rearranging the work but it’s fun to explore Kip’s world with him. Tomorrow will be a big action scene.

Why to Keep a Log

When I wrote my first book, I didn’t keep a log and I really wish I had.

Not only is the log fun to go back and read later, but it helps to defray some of the loneliness of writing something you’re keeping secret until it’s all done. I know some writers are sharing their work as they produce it but I find that doing that makes me less likely to finish it so I keep it secret and hence the reason I like to keep a log.

I’m also keeping a log to remind myself just how much fun I’m having now. Eventually there will be a day when the fun is not so quick in coming. I’ll be banging my head on the wall and wondering why I subjected myself to this crazy thing called writing a novel (again).

On days like that, I’ll just take a peek at the log and remind myself how far I’ve come and how much fun I’ve had along the way. That peek usually gives me a little boost and I can get back on the road, and if I don’t get a boost at least I feel guilty enough to keep on working. 😉

I know, I know. This all seems terribly complicated. Couldn’t I just write and enjoy it?

Well, I am enjoying it. I’m having a blast and I hope you are too!

14 thoughts on “Measuring Progress – Keeping a Log

  1. Hmm… I guess that’s kind of what I’m doing in my blog, without really realizing it. Although since that’s written for public consumption, it’s a little… sanitized.

    Yesterday went so well I’m hoping I can catch fire again today. After I get my chores done, of course. (sigh!)

    Liz C´s last blog post..Day 1

  2. This reminds me why I liked writing in a journal for so many years. Although I haven’t done it very consistently for quite a while now, it was something that gave me perspective; at those times when I thought life was awful, I could reread the journal and either see times when it was a lot worse, or I could see how things got better and how life was good.

  3. I’m worse. I picked up an excel spreadsheet for tracking my writing progress. Someone else designed it and I downloaded it. It keeps track of word goals, time, I enter in my daily progress and it lights up if I reached my daily goal. It allows me to enter a number to describe my level of feeling. It also has a place for comments. It charts my progress in comparison to the needed words per day to reach my goal by the set date and also charts how I rated my feelings, and also calculates my words per hour and how many hours left of writing I have left to reach my goal.

    All in all, I enter in a few items and get all sorts of charts and stuff. Fun but probably more OCD than most writers will deal with during NaNoWriMo, but that is just the way I am. 🙂

    Kim the Blogging Bard´s last blog post..NaNoWriMo Begins!

  4. Kim, where did you get your excel spreadsheet for tracking your writing progress?

    Sounds like something I should do if, for nothing else, to keep me motivated (and feeling guilty when I don’t reach my goals!)

    Erin´s last blog post..Love is in the Air

  5. I wish I could remember what blog had the template. It is a template for tracking your writing marathon. I’ve had it for over a year. I was using it to keep track of my dissertation writing progress originally by guessing how many words a chapter might have and putting in my deadline and then seeing how close I managed to keep up with my writing goals. It helped me a lot.

    When I ran a google search for the file name, this one came up and it appears identical to the one I have so perhaps this site is where I found it originally:

    Kim the Blogging Bard´s last blog post..NaNoWriMo Begins!

  6. I’m a member of Forward Motion Writers – – and I participate in one thread on the member forum which is about daily goals. At the beginning of the week we write down our goals, then day by day we update the group and everyone provides love and support even when we’ve been lazy and not got anything done…

    Since starting to do that I’ve increased my fiction productivity because I want to have something to show.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post..Destuckifying Your Life: Havi Brooks Interview

  7. Jamie, I like the idea of keeping a log. I also want to capture the experience of my first NaNo. So far, it’s great! It is harder and better than I imagined it would be. I love Alex’s suggestion. Accountability works for weight loss so why not writing! I can’t thank you enough Jamie for all your tips, suggestions and support with NaNo. You really are special. 🙂

    Karen Swim´s last blog post..Paralyzing Perfectionism

  8. Wow! Some wonderful comments in here! Thanks everyone!

    @Liz Hope you got back to the work after doing the chores. Sounds a lot like what happened to me this morning. 🙂

    @Oktober5 I still journal a bit each day, but more and more of it ends up here. Of course, with all that’s going on right now they’re little more than tiny bits of “what’s happening now”

    @Deb @Kim Seems like Excel is really popular. I once set up a wiki on my computer once to try and keep track. That became a project in and of itself so I abandoned that idea. 🙂

    @Erin Nothing like a little guilt to keep the fires burning. 😉

    @Alex That’s a great group. Thanks for sharing the link.

    Writers groups in general are very motivating. There is a group here in town I am interested in hooking up with. Believe it or not, I’m a bit shy about it still. It’s one thing to write out here on the Internet but another to sit in a room with all eyes upon you. Think I’ll have to conquer that demon very soon.

    @Karen Aww gee. I wish there was an emoticon with a little smiley face kicking at the dirt. 😉

  9. I’ve been a member of a few writing groups and never had luck with them. I end up self-editing for the people reading. I now just use FMWriters as a support group and to learn from the workshops.

    When I want editing/feedback, I go to and crit a bunch of works then submit my own.

    That way I’m writing for myself and getting crits only when I need them.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post..Destuckifying Your Life: Havi Brooks Interview

  10. Jamie you do run a very positive and encouraging site – thank you for that. I totally agree with the idea that goal setting creates forward motion, only I’m easily bored by numbers and spread sheets so I like less structured approaches. For one of my novels I did a motivational collage and stuck it up in my writing space – that sort of thing works well for me. I’ve also discovered that blogging what I intend to accomplish within a given time frame is pretty effective, because people have actually now heard me say I’m going to do something, and if I don’t get it done I’ll have to explain why…

    Happy Nanoing everybody! I’m having fun this year.

    Uppington´s last blog post..The Inescapable IDEA

  11. @Uppington Thanks so much! I love your idea about a collage. That’s one reason I use Scrivener. I can put in pictures and such that I can look at right alongside my writing. It’s really helpful. I also doodle pictures of characters and scenes in my notebook. 🙂

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