I’ve been participating in National Novel Writing Month since 2014, and I think the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days is a great tool to get people writing and foster community among writers and just overall encourage authors. Lately, however, the NaNoWriMo organization has been making a lot of decisions based on politics, and they’re decisions that I personally think are detrimental to the encouragement of community that is central to what NaNoWriMo has to offer. You’re welcome to agree or disagree with me on that, and through this post I do not mean to advocate for leaving the NaNoWriMo organization or suggest that it’s the best option—I haven’t even decided for myself yet whether I’m staying or leaving. This is simply intended to be a gathering of resources in case anyone has seen NaNoWriMo’s recent changes as deal-breakers, or to provide additional resources for those who are sticking around but maybe want a separate word count tracker or more targeted community.
Word count tracker: myWriteClub
myWriteClub is a site that allows you to track writing goals, not only in words but also in chapters, scenes, to-do items, pages, percentages, lines, and “other.” It also allows you to archive goals when you’re finished with them, and to un-archive them at will. It doesn’t have any fancy stats attached, so it won’t tell you how many words you average per day or what time of day you write most often or anything like that, but it functions to keep you on track with a writing goal.
It also allows you to follow other authors and comment on their goals to cheer them on, and vice versa. And there’s a word sprint tool which allows you to see real-time progress—both your own and that of those you’re writing against. You can either start your own sprint “room” or join the “global sprint.” The tool has a timer at the top set to the Pomodoro Technique, so it counts down 25 minutes in green and then 5 minutes in blue and then 25 in green, etc., but it doesn’t prevent you from writing during the intended breaks.
Overall, it’s a really handy tool.
Word count tracker: Svenja Gosen’s word tracking calendar
I’ve used these calendars for three years now, and they’re super cool. They’re Excel spreadsheets that are completely set up to calculate average words per day, average words per month, total per month, how many words left to reach a monthly goal, average time spent writing, etc. All you have to do is enter your word count and how long you spent writing. And the artwork is beautiful. So if you’re looking for a word count tracker with more stats than myWriteClub, this might be a good fit. The calendars are sold according to a donation system, so you can shell in for them to keep them going or you can get them for free if you don’t have the money to donate.
Word count tracker: Pacemaker
I think I’ve used this once, but I then forgot about it and now I can’t remember my login. So obviously I can’t speak much to how it works. But Pacemaker looks like it could be a very handy tool. It’s set up not only to handle fiction projects but also academic projects, marketing… even training and saving or spending. It has tons of options and is super flexible, even allowing you to set your own method of reaching the goal—whether you want to write a steady amount each day, put most of the work in the middle, work up from small goals to larger goals… It also allows you to set whether you want weekends (or other specific days or dates) to be different from normal days.
ETA: Word count tracker: Project Victor
This is another spreadsheet option that I discovered when participating in Christine Smith’s Fall FicFrenzy event; one of the participants set up this spreadsheet to resemble the word count trackers on the NaNoWriMo site, complete with an easily visible graph of your word count over the course of a month! Plus, this spreadsheet is set up to accommodate an online writing group tracking their word counts together OR a single author using it for offline personal use, so this is a great choice if you want something more collaborative or if you just like the look of it for yourself.
Community: Kingdom Pen
Kingdom Pen is a Christian blog and community that’s been around for a while. It saw a year or two of down time in the middle, but it’s recently returned and seems to be thriving again. It’s primarily intended for teen writers, and it’s a really fun group of people.
Community: Story Embers
Story Embers is kind of like an all-ages version of Kingdom Pen. It’s also a Christian group, and it focuses more heavily on how best to glorify God through writing. This group is also fantastic, and there are a lot of great conversations on the forums, both deep and meaningful conversations and those that are more just-for-fun.
Edit: Sadly, the Story Embers forum has been taken down. The blog is still excellent, but Story Embers no longer falls under this “community” category.
Community: Scribes & Archers Discord
I have a Discord channel for interacting with you all, my readers, and sharing what I’m working on and hearing about what y’all are working on. I’ll admit I’m not great at getting/keeping conversation going, which is definitely something I need to work on, but we’d love to have you join us and get to know you better!
(Joining the Discord channel also includes perks like access to the resource library and the first chapter of Calligraphy Guild, regular writing sprints, and a full catalogue of my available resources–both free and paid.)
Wherever you stand on NaNoWriMo, I hope this list has been helpful to you. What tools do you use to track writing projects? Are you part of any public writing communities?