Why You Must Track Your Writing Sessions

Do you track your daily writing sessions? Do you just note it down on a calendar, or do you put it on a piece of scrap paper? Do you write down your daily word count? Or do you just mark that you did some writing today?

I am going to suggest that you cannot improve things about your writing life if you don’t write them down. If your big problem is that you don’t write every day, you need to put a mark somewhere that you did write today. If your problem is that  you only write a few words each day then you need to track your word count. If you write slowly, you need to determine your writing speed and see if this is improving.

Chris Fox suggests that you do your daily writing session in the form of writing sprints. He has a tool at chrisfoxwrites.com/5kwph, a spreadsheet,  that will help you calculate your writing speed in Words Per Hour. This is very helpful. You may do writing sprints of five minutes or 10 minutes or 30 minutes. In each case write it down in the spreadsheet.  It will calculate words per hour so that you can tell if your writing speed is improving.

I have used the Chris Fox spreadsheet in both Mac and PC computers. In both cases it works well enough. I would suggest if you are doing different kinds of writing this month, you track them on separate copies of the spreadsheet. For example, I am writing this current blog post using dictation. I don’t always use dictation to write however. I have two copies of the spreadsheet for September, one for dictation, and one for ordinary writing. In that way I don’t mix up the writing speeds for the two kinds of writing.

What do you do when you have a record of your writing speed? If you write faithfully every day, over time you will see your writing speed go up, just because you’re doing it everyday. It’s the same as if you made a tuna casserole every single day at noon. Before long you will be making it more quickly because you were doing it every single day.

Why writing sprints? There are two reasons. First, a writing sprint is a way of tricking yourself into acting more like a better writer would. A good writer writes every day. He devotes time to getting the writing done. And he keeps track of how much he gets done. In this way, a writing sprint encourages you to do things you should be doing anyway to make your writing dream come true.

Second, doing writing sprints encourages you to learn how to write in what is called a flow state. Writing in the flow state means that everything is going well. You are not sitting in front of your screen for a half hour and then taking one comma out. Something is happening in your story. It is flowing out of your brain on to the screen.

A writing sprint does not guarantee that you will be writing in a flow state. But if you write day after day in writing sprints, in which you are not allowed to break the flow of your writing by going back and making corrections, you will soon find that at least some of the time you are writing in a flow state. And as you continue doing your daily writing sprints, you’ll find this happening on a regular basis, before long a daily basis.

Writing in the flow state is something writers hope for. But many writers don’t know how to make that happen. This is how. It’s not my secret, I learned it from Chris Fox and other people who’ve written how-to-write books. You learn to write him a flow state by doing things that make the flow state more likely to happen. The rules of a writing sprint, which include not going back, not editing, not making corrections, are rules that help you get into the flow state by eliminating the distractions.

But the key thing to remember is that you must track your writing sprints and your writing sessions every single time. If you write these things down, you cannot have a week or a month in which you do not write. Taking one day off, when you do not track your writing, can lead to more days off and before you know it, you’re not a writer anymore. You are just someone who used to dream of being a writer.

Some of you may find it very hard to establish a daily writing habit. For others it is easy to write every day, but they don’t get much accomplished. Using writing sprints and tracking them is a way to bring your actual deeds in line with your writing goals.


Chris Fox: 5000 Words Per Hour  Click on the link to get the ebook for free, in exchange for signing up for the author’s mailing list.

Monica Leonelle: The 8-Minute Writing Habit

Rachel Aaron: 2000 to 10000

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