WriteChain – A Fun Word Count App for Writers

The WriteChain Icon: Ain’t it cute? 🙂

WriteChain is a word count tracking tool for the iPhone designed to remind you to maintain your writing practice.

After 4 years in the App Store, WriteChain has over 28,000 downloads! Thank you!!!

WriteChain is FREE. Nothing fancy. No hidden editors or quotes or any of that fiddle faddle. Just a super simple tool that any writer can use to set a daily goal and hold themselves accountable to it.

Click here to get WriteChain on iTunes

Release Notes

** The current release version of WriteChain is 1.1.

Version 1.1 – 1.1 is a minor update. The blue URL link on the home page will now point to this page instead of the home page of How Not to Write. In addition, 1.1 corrects the calculation of the running word count totals on the Sessions screen. The previous version counted the running total in reverse.

About WriteChain

WriteChain stores word counts for each writing session and tracks the total words written across all sessions. Yet, if you’re serious about writing, you know that dedicated practice is the only way to improve and succeed. WriteChain takes the session tracking a step further by counting consecutive daily sessions to measure your “writing chain”. If you skip a session, you break the chain and WriteChain lets you know about it.

If the whole links/chain thing seems a bit confusing, read on. There’s a whole section at the end about the philosophy behind the tool.

Let’s take a tour!

The WriteChain Home Screen

Below is an image of the first page in WriteChain. When you load the program for the first time, the total word count will be zero (naturally) and there will be no “links” in your chain.

  1. To get started, just tap the zero (0) in the middle of the page and enter the word count from your daily writing session.
  2. Tap anywhere on the screen to make the keyboard go away and a save button will appear. The save button you see is based on how close you got to your daily writing goal.
  3. When you tap the save button the writing session is saved and you can go on your way!

The Sessions List

Tapping the Sessions tab at the bottom of the screen will take you to a list of all of your sessions sorted by date (latest session first). If you want to edit a session, just tap the blue arrow and you’ll go to the Edit Session screen. You can also add a new session by tapping the plus (+) icon at the top of the page. To delete a session, just swipe it from right to left as you would in iPhone mail and a delete button will appear.


The Edit Session Page

On this page, you can edit all the details about a writing session. There’s also a place to record notes about the session if you so choose. If you want to edit the date or time of the session, just tap the little calendar icon in the upper right corner and you’ll go to a standard iPhone date picker.

** Note: Until you tap the Save button, changes made to the session will not be saved. This means that you can cancel changes at any time by using the Sessions button in the upper left corner… as long as you haven’t pressed Save already. 😉


The Preferences Page

As you might expect, this is where you set your preferences. By default, the application will give you a writing goal of 500 words per day and a chain setting of zero (0). You might be a little confused about the chain setting so let’s take a moment to discuss it.


About the Chain

There’s an old adage about repetition and if I were a better writer I might be able to tell you what it is, but I’m not. Still, I do know one thing: constant practice makes for a better writer. The idea behind the chain is to give you a constant measure of how well you’re maintaining that practice.

The chain is formed of links which represent your writing sessions on any given day. To keep from breaking the chain, you need to link up days in consecutive order that do not exceed the tolerance set by the value on this page.

Wow, that sounds like something a programmer would write, doesn’t it?

Ok, here’s the simple version:

  • If you set the chain value to zero (0), you have to write every day. There’s no room to slack.
  • If you set the chain value to one (1), you have one day to slack between sessions till the chain is broken.
  • And so on…

In practical terms, if you set the value to one (1) the chain doesn’t break until you’ve gone two days without writing. If you write on Monday but then wait until Thursday to write again, the chain is broken. If you write on Wednesday, you’ve only missed Tuesday and thus managed to keep from breaking the chain.

Don’t Break the Chain

Nothing terrible will happen if you break the chain, but it is likely you will feel a heightened sense of existential sadness. My advice is don’t break the chain. I also advise you not to cheat and change the setting to make it super easy not the break the chain. That’s coasting. However, you shouldn’t feel like changing the chain setting is some awful foul either. Set both the word count goal and the chain value to a number to which you can commit and then go for it!

Click here to get WriteChain on iTunes

Please feel free to leave comments and questions in the comments below. I may move this to a forum at a later date, but I thought this would be a good place to start.

34 thoughts on “WriteChain – A Fun Word Count App for Writers

  1. This looks exceedingly cool – it beats my marking each day with a red cross on a paper calendar 😉 Is there any chance of this being ported to Android?

  2. @Eric Thanks! As for Android, maybe so! You never know what I’ll get myself up to. 😉

    @ronenk Thanks!

  3. Ummm… so if I write something in Pages on my Mac, this app tells me how many words I wrote? I mean, writing on the iPhone is difficult at best, but using the iPhone to TRACK my writing is cool.

    Is that what this does?

  4. @David Even I wouldn’t try forcing people to compose on the iPhone… 🙂

    WriteChain tracks word counts. You write wherever and however you like and then record your daily volume in WriteChain. Simple and efficient. WriteChain keeps tabs on the progress and lets you know how you’re doing.

  5. Hey, that is really cool! If I ever get an iphone, that’ll be the first thing I download.

    That could even be expanded into other areas, if you wanted to… Fitness, weight loss, etc.

    Say Jamie… does writing code count as writing? If so, I think you’ve been cheating 🙂

  6. @Clint Thanks, Clint! I wish I could count coding as writing. It might help me keep my chain in better shape!

  7. Great app! Is there any way to export/email/save sessions to my mac? One must always plan for the unfortunate moment when one’s iPhone kicks it and the data is gone…

    But thanks for working on this cool app!


  8. @rvdparis Thanks!! I know exactly what you mean about saving the data. Exporting data will definitely be in the next version. Multiple project tracking is also coming as well. 🙂

  9. I often thought about creating my own utility on the PC back when… I used to keep track in my hardcover daily diary. Now it’s my iPod itouch. Thanks for the free utility. I am now waiting for WriteChain Pro.

  10. I’ve been using WriteChain for a while now and I love it. I have 12 links in my chain! I’m sure it’s helped me keep my momentum and keep me writing regularly. And I’m thankful for everything that helps me write regularly.

    I have one suggestion for improvement. Instead of the button saying “GOAL!” or “CLOSER” or “I TRIED” according to how close that writing session is to your daily goal, it should take into consideration all the words you’ve written that day and react to the total, even if that’s more than one writing session. It’s a small point, but I like the encouragement of the button, and it’s discouraging when I’ve met my goal with one writing session, write a bit more that day, and then get told I’ve only “tried”!

    Otherwise it’s fantastic. Thanks for creating it! I wrote a review here: http://jbrubacher.blogspot.com/2009/05/writechain-application-gives-gentle.html

  11. Hi Jamie,

    I love the app and the concept. But I write long hand so calculating a word count is impractical. I know that’s *so* old-school, but it gets words on a page…

    Any chance that WriteChain could have an option to record minutes instead of words?

    Keep up the good work! 🙂

  12. I love the app and have used it to finish my novel. 139.432 words, now I am starting the editing process (app. 1/3 needs to go) and find there is no “-“! Pls. help me…

  13. P/S.: I spoke favourably of WriteChain in the German Forum of NaNoWriMo, by the way…

  14. Is it possible in future versions to set the frequency of sessions? I set my target at a (quite low) 1,000 words a week prior to finding this app, and as this is the only app I can find that even vaguely resembles the kind of thing I’m looking for.

    Or even have a setting where you don’t have to write in sessions, but rather tracks your progress towards your goal word count over the period of time that you can set.

    I understand that that would take a lot of work though, so I’ll also thank you for the great product that you have already produced.

  15. I have an old generation two iTouch so I was ecstatic to find that this works! I’m huge in to writing and sometimes just need to force myself, so this is exactly what I needed. May I just say thank you again? Cause this is just epic. And complex enough to be cool and interesinv, but simple enough to understand easily.

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