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Completion and progress

The Celtic triskelion symbol (at right) represents completion and progress, and a sense of advancement. A fitting metaphor for reviewing the past year and looking toward the next one, I think.

There’s something to be said for accountability. Writing down how much I spend, eat, or write makes me more likely to stick to my goals.

In 2010, I only tracked my word count, but that didn’t tell the whole story. Some months I had almost no words, but I’d still been working hard. So for 2011, I tracked all of the hours that I deemed directly contributed toward publication or making money: revising, researching, reading craft books, preparing query letters and contest entries, taking workshops, and teaching Scrivener classes.

Because you wouldn’t expect anything less, here’s a snapshot of my productivity for 2011.

  • Total (net) words written: 173,617 (14,468 words/month average)
  • Total writing/revising hours worked: 377.25 (31.5 hours/month average)
  • Total hours worked on all writing-related activities: 736.25 (61 hours/month average)

Words by Month - 2011

(Note: Word counts are net. During NaNo my manuscript contained 50,200+ words.)

Hours per Month (blue=writing/revs, red=total) - 2011

May and August have a low writing/total ratio because I was teaching classes. June was similar because of the RWA conference.

What’s not included is the time I spent on writing-related activities that don’t directly contribute to more words, better writing, or making money in some way: blogging, tweeting, checking my Facebook author page, reading/answering emails, volunteering for RWA groups/events, and Citizens Police Academy classes.


  • Golden Heart final, The Sandy Contest win, Between the Sheets Contest 2nd place
  • Attended RWA National Conference and pitched to an agent and editor, both of whom requested
  • Received eight full requests and four partial requests
  • Received four rejections with specific feedback, including one request for my next project
  • Won NaNoWriMo
  • Proposed and taught two Scrivener online classes, and figured out how to host the class myself in 2012


  • Only met hours-worked goals in four of 12 months
  • Didn’t meet manuscript completion goals

Plans for 2012:

  • 1500 words/day, 5 days/week when writing
  • Two hours of revisions/day, 5 days/week when revising
  • Complete and polish current manuscript, and one additional MS
  • Stay off email, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs until writing/revising goals met
  • Teach two Scrivener online classes
  • Attend RWA National Conference and WRW Retreat
  • Win NaNoWriMo
How did you do in 2011? Are you going to make any changes in how you work? What are your plans for 2012?

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  1. Reply

    Oh my gosh, Gwen! You are the queen of spreadsheets and time-management. I’m drooling here. Would love to have kept the great records you have. Maybe I should shoot for that in 2012. Congrats on doing so well! Good luck this year.

    • Reply

      LOL, Lena, except that I was supposed to post this tomorrow and hit Publish instead of Schedule. That’s what I get for planning ahead…

      I’ve been called anal, but I like “queen of spreadsheets” better. 😉 I try to make tracking easy. I went to, created a sheet for each month, and just jot down my time and words, plus short descriptions, in the boxes.

      I actually started doing it originally so that I’d have something to show the IRS if they ever decided to audit me.

      Have a fabulous 2012. You’ve been rocking the writing and editing lately. Nothing like a contract to light a fire, right? Thanks!

  2. Reply

    Gwen! This is awesome! What a great thing to have to look back over at the end of the year! Thanks for sharing the tracking info. I just have to try this! 🙂

    • Reply

      Thanks, Melissa! Half the reason I post this is to force myself to go back and look at it.

      I probably should have mentioned that I use The Daily Grind widget (for Mac) to keep track of how long I spend working on something. It lets you track multiple activities with start/pause buttons. Very useful.

      Good luck and thanks for the cheers!

  3. Reply

    Wow, you were super productive in 2011 and reaped many fine rewards as a result. Way to go, Gwen. I don’t count my words as “net” — I count all of them LOL. It’s psychological. I hope you meet all your goals in 2012 and that I see you in Anaheim.

    • Reply

      Thanks, Christine! I try to count all my words, but I still have a tendency to edit some as I go, and occasionally chuck a scene (you know, into a deleted scenes folder for it’s next incarnation ;-)).

      Good luck on your goals this year too! See you in Anaheim. =)

  4. Reply

    Those were great goals. You inspired me to type out my 2012 goals and tape them on the board above my desk. How do you track your daily hours/word count? Excel or is that a Scrivener thing?

    • Reply

      Thanks, Lynne! It definitely helps for me to have a map of where I want to go for the year.

      My tracking system is multi-part (that sounds even nerdier than it is).

      I use The Daily Grind widget to keep track of the time spent on each manuscript or activity (teaching, queries, etc…) each day.

      For writing, in each Scrivener project I have a doc I call Productivity where I track the daily word count and hours (and sometimes the total MS word count at that point), plus any notes for that day. That way I can get a quick view of the work I’ve put into any manuscript, e.g. when I started it, when I made a plot change, etc…

      I put all of the day’s writing-related activities on the PDF calendar I mentioned in my response to Lena. I add up each week and then the month, and at the end of the year I put all the numbers into a spreadsheet.

      It sounds complicated, but each part only takes a second or two except for the spreadsheet at the end.

      That was probably more of an answer than you bargained for, but I hope it helps. 😉 Good luck on your goals in 2012!

  5. Reply

    Gwen – this is one impressive post. As a fellow analytical geek (and I say that in the nicest way possible) I love the charts and everything you’ve shared here. Thanks!

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