Today, my family is getting ready to pound mochi and clean the house from top to bottom in preparation for the Japanese New Year on Wednesday. And I’ve been getting ready for a fresh start in my writing career this past month, too.
Obsessed is more like it – I’ve decided that what I really, really need is a word count meter to help keep me on track with my writing goals. I loved using the one at the National Novel Writing Month site, but that’s only available during November.
After much thought and hours on the Internet (that could have been spent writing!!), I think the best approach for most people is an old-fashioned one: get a small, cheap, free calendar, and a packet of gold stars. Pencil in your writing goal for each day, and leave space for a cumulative total. When you meet your goal, give yourself a gold star. Erase the goal, and write in your real total for the day in pen, and add it up to see how much progress over the month. What could be easier than that?
Unfortunately, I tend to lose stuff, so I wanted something I could keep on the computer.
I found this very pretty “goal thermometer” from Svenja Liv. Now, I don’t know what price you pay for free, but I like the look of it. You could paste it onto your blog, or keep a cumulative page on your website. You do have to keep returning every day to recalculate your progress. I’m not sure how you’d put it on your own computer – it doesn’t seem to be an intuitive copy-and-paste image.
If you want something for your computer, a good old spreadsheet might be the best option. I found clear, sensible instructions from Nerds and Nomsense. Then I looked in multiple other places to find a way to make my own goal thermometer. I finally gave up – my Excel runs in Japanese, and the instructions I found are in English. Somewhere, I’m missing something. The best I could do is this chart at the left. As my word count grows, the second oval should grow to match the first oval (or surpass it! Yay!).
As I stumbled around, trying to find a way to make my chart match my imagination, I came across this chart from Chandoo.org. I don’t know how to manipulate it very well, but I came up with five writing goals for January, and managed to create this chart. We’ll see how it works!
The big danger is being so perfectionist in the administrative details that one runs out of actual time for writing. My tools aren’t perfect, but they are good enough for me. I feel like I’ve got a clear shot at writing without excuses for the first quarter of 2014. (-: At least until the cat needs vacuuming on January 3rd.
Only three more days until the New Year! That’s lots of time to get things ready.
P.S. If you know of any easier, better ways to track your goals (especially on the computer!), I’d love to hear them. And of course, we all love a good disaster story, so feel free to share those, too (-:.