Tracking your word count + free word count tracker

If you’re a writer, I’m pretty sure you roughly know how many words you’ve already written for your current writing project. But for some reason, just knowing this never worked for me in terms of motivation. So I decided to make a word count tracker. For every 1,000 words I add to my manuscript, I get to color one star. I guess I need this kind of child-friendly chart to keep me on track. Whatever works, right?

Visually tracking your progress

The colored stars give me a visual overview of where I’m at. This way, I know what I’ve done and how much I still need to do to achieve one of my goals: finish the first draft of my novel. It’s also helped me to be consistent with my writing. The minimal word count I’ve set for myself is 4,000 words per week (or 4 colored stars). This is not a lot and I often write more than that, but a lower goal seems less daunting. Seeing the stars add up is a real motivation for me. Suddenly, writing 70,000 or 80,000 words seems attainable. That’s only about 70 or 80 stars. Sounds doable, right?

Free word count tracker

Do you want to start tracking your word count by coloring stars? Download the Word count tracker PDF and start coloring! There’s 80 stars to color, meaning it’s perfect for novels with a goal of 80,000 words. But if you want to write less, you absolutely can of course. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do!

Novel progress

I’ve seriously neglected my blog the past year, oops. I did post a lot of stuff on Instagram, does that make me less guilty of neglect? Anyway, time for a little update!

New novel in progress

At the beginning of this month, I started with a fresh story and I’m so happy that I did. My novel is finally coming together and I’m already 11,000 words in. I know this is not a lot, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right? I’ve been writing about 1,000 words a day (four days a week) and I’m trying to keep the momentum going. Some days I even reach a word count of 2,000 words or more. If I miss a day, I’m not going to stress about it, because I know I’ll catch up. Needless to say, I’m happy with my progress and I hope that I will have the first draft finished in about three months. I don’t know if this is crazy or doable. I guess we’ll find out in twelve weeks.

 

This Chick Writes Challenge

Another thing I discovered last month was the This Chick Writes Challenge, hosted by author Daniela Pesconi-Arthur at This Chick Writes. I decided to join in and so far it’s been fun. Dani is always ready to answer any questions or to give feedback and encouragement. I believe the challenge is currently closed, but a new one will start in about one month, so feel free to join the next one and have fun writing that chick lit novel you’ve always been dreaming of!

A Day in the Life of a Writer: Part 1

I often get asked what a typical day looks like for me. People always assume that writers lead extraordinary lives and that we spend our days daydreaming and petting our cats while writing one brilliant chapter or ten articles every day. And then there are those who really don’t believe that writing is working and make snide comments about how I get to sit in my pajamas all day—sipping chai lattes (duh)—while they have to spend eight hours in a cubicle with colleagues they don’t really like. A third category includes people who call me up to hang with them on their day off or who ask me to do some errands for them, because after all, I’m not “really working” anyway.

So when they ask me about my day with excitement in their eyes I often feel bad for breaking the news to them: a day in the life of an author or copywriter doesn’t even remotely look like it does in their fantasy. Sorry!

But then what does it look like? This first part will focus on my days as a freelance writer. The other parts will tell you more about ‘A Day in the Life of an Author’, ‘A Day in the Life of a Television Copywriter’ and ‘A Day in the Life of a Game Script Writer’ so stay tuned for that as well.

7 am

Our kids wake up at 7 am (if we are lucky) so that means we get up as well. We feed them (yes, we really do!), dress them (this can be a struggle, especially with a cute active baby who would rather roll and crawl than put on a clean diaper and pants) and prepare their bags (this is the easy part). If we are lucky, we even find some time to tidy up some of the mess that always mysteriously appears this early in the morning—high five for us!

8:30 am

My husband and I each bring one of our kids to their destination for the day: daycare (a five-minute drive) or school (located in our street). For anyone wondering: yes, we even get dressed for this, so no pajama time for us 😉 Sometimes I stop at the local bakery for a bread or I bring home a coffee (latte macchiato, in case you are wondering). When I don’t have a busy work schedule I even go grocery shopping first, which takes about 20 to 30 minutes out of my day.

9 am

I fire up my computer and check my emails. First I answer all of them and do some exciting administrative work like paying bills and sending documents to my accountant. After that I start writing. This involves a lot of thinking, writing, deleting, writing, editing, writing some more and polishing. Of course, I never check Facebook/Twitter/email when I’m working (just kidding).

I like to read up on the subject I’m writing about first and let my ideas brew in my head before I write them down. The fun part of being a freelance writer is not only being able to work from home, but also the fact that you get to write about a variety of topics (I admit, some more interesting than others).

12:10 pm

At this point I will start feeling hungry but I don’t stop working right away. I never stop writing in the middle of a sentence or paragraph. If I have to write five texts I will finish the one I’m working on before I have lunch.

12:30 pm

Since my husband also works from home I don’t have to eat alone—hooray! It’s the perfect time to talk to each other without being interrupted by the kids. I also use this time to throw piles of clothes into the washer or to quickly load/unload the dishwasher.

1 pm

After lunch I get back to work. The morning process gets repeated: check email, do some important administrative stuff and start writing again. When I’m on a deadline I can work really focused. This means that I often even forget to eat or drink something. Someone please remind me to hydrate myself from time to time 🙂

4 pm (or 5 pm)

I (or my husband) pick up the kids while the other continues working. If I have to submit my work that day I give everything a last proofread, tweak it and send it over to my client. Before I check out of the office I also make a to-do list for the next day.

5 pm-8 pm

Family time! Cooking, eating, playing, changing diapers, brushing teeth, reading bedtime stories… It all happens in these magical hours.

8 pm-10 pm

When we didn’t have kids yet, I used to work in the evening as well. Now I try to finish everything during the day, but sometimes I still need to get some writing done so I will start working again as soon as the kids are asleep. But if all my work is done, I like to focus on my novel writing, get out my sewing machine, read a book, catch up with friends or watch TV. And at 10 pm? It’s lights out (or lights on and me falling asleep on the couch).

Stay tuned for the other parts in this series: A Day in the Life of an Author, A Day in the Life of a Television Copywriter and A Day in the Life of a Game Script Writer!

Happy New Year!

2016 has arrived! Well, actually it arrived yesterday, but there are still 365 days to enjoy. I hope you will all have a fulfilling year.

What I wish for myself? Basically just two things:

  1. Time to write
  2. More sleep. A lot more would be great, but just a couple of extra hours will make my year 🙂

I’ve already set up a plan for the first thing on my list. The success of the second point will totally depend on my youngest son’s cooperation. Let’s face it, writing with a 3-year old and a baby in the house is not easy. But it can be done. I’ve been writing for years – I started way before we had any kids – and I’ll share my journey as a writing and working mother with you this year.

What are your resolutions for 2016?