National Novel Writing Month is a magical time of year. While nothing tangible gets done around the house, participants have a pleasant feeling of accomplishment. This accomplishment is strangely accompanied by the feeling of absolute failure. While we completed (or attempted) to write a novella in 30 short days, we have also pulled a few unsavory strings and neglected relationships with beings who actually exist. I, like many other repeat participants, love this magical time and go at it with ritualistic fervor.

For everything else, there are statistics to help you along the way. Nanowrimo.org has been adding to their usual line and bar graph version of keeping track of your word count in comparison to the ideal, daily goals. Today, you can find the following to help you stay on track or—depending on the day—panic about your lack of success:

Your Average Per Day
Words Written Today
Target Word Count
Target Average Words Per Day
Total Words Written
Words Remaining
Current Day
Days Remaining
At This Rate You Will Finish On
Words Per Day To Finish On Time

I’m especially fond of “Your Average Per Day” because it saves you from having to do math when you should be writing. The “Words Per Day To Finish On Time” is also handy in case you fall off track.

All of this is useful, but I prefer to give my stats a personal touch in a spreadsheet. This makes me more excited than it should. Every October, I resist updating the stats too early. November 1 is still 15 days away, and I need to use this waiting period do do the things I always fall behind in right before NaNo: reading piles of books and doing some legitimate cleaning because I know everything will be a mess not one week into writing.

Well, I found mine a few days ago. This is a piece of history. I’ve kept my word count from previous years (except 2007, which were too much of a mess to decipher, and 2010, which I lost) and intend to add to it annually. Allow me to show you a screencap of my spreadsheet. It might look messy at first glance, but I left some notes to guide you around.

The colors might change from year to year, but the overall purpose is to allow myself to compare this year’s word count to the progress of other years. When I have clear data on how I’ve improved, I hope to one day not sweat as much over the word count itself.

Who else on WordPress is doing NaNo? Lots, I’ll bet! What do you do while tracking your words?

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