Using WordKeeper to Track Fiction Writing Progress

In keeping with my 2021 writing goals and my ramped up writing process, I’ve been using an iPhone app—WordKeeper—to measure my daily fiction writing progress.

You can enter different projects, such as short stories or novels. I’m in the early stages of working on novel number seven: plotting and outlining. My project page is below. WordKeeper displays my daily target word count based on the completion date I set. It shows daily progress as well as total progress toward my projected word count. It also provides stats about time, sessions, words, writing phases, and locations (which I don’t use). (Scroll down past the image for the rest of this post.)

WordKeeper Project

When I sit down at my laptop to write, the first thing I do is open WordKeeper and start the timer. Then I write for an hour or two, stopping the timer when I’m done. Last evening, I got home late from dinner and only got 50 minutes in.

WordKeeper Timer

WordKeeper then displays the Session page, showing my stats for that session: start and end times, any pauses I made, and the duration of the session. If I were writing, I would enter a word count. But right now, I’m still outlining.

WordKeeper Session

WordKeeper is helping me track my fiction writing progress so that I can be more productive.

When I get to the writing phase, hopefully in a week or two, I will start racking up the word count. WordKeeper will keep me on track to meet my deadline.

I like WordKeeper. It’s easy to use and has more features than I have time to explore. It’s $2.99 a month—the cost of a cup of coffee.

If you’re looking to track your fiction writing progress and productivity, you can learn more at https://wordkeeper.app/.

Ramping Up My Writing Process

Productivity ChainA few weeks ago, I posted my 2021 writing goals. Toward that end, I’m ramping up my writing process. Here’s the well-greased chain I’m shooting for to increase my fiction-writing productivity:

Ideation > Brainstorming > Plotting > Outlining > Drafting > Editing > Marketing

Ideation: This is generating a story idea. I do this purposely several times a week on Twitter. For example:

You open the front door to get the mail. In the mailbox is a severed hand. Who put it there and why. How do you find out?

Brainstorming: Great idea. (I’ll write it someday.) But it needs a little—okay, a lot—of work. Here’s where I go through a process of answering questions about my character and his or her goals. I do a lot of work before I tackle structure. After all, I need events and motivation to plot.

Plotting: I develop character arcs for all my major characters and conform the brainstormed material into classic story structure. More at How to Write Stories that Sell.

Outlining: Here, I sort the information into a sequential scene-by-scene list from which I’ll write. I like my ducks in a row so that when I plant my butt in the chair, I can write without interruption.

Drafting: Using my outline, I write from beginning to end, incorporating all the information from my brainstorming, plotting, and outlining. I use Scrivener to build my manuscripts.

Editing: After one or more days, I’ll print the draft and edit it, making sure all the necessary information is in place and that I’m using the best language to tell a story. I go through at least five drafts before I consider the story ready for the reading public.

Marketing: I now have everything beta read. (If you’re a published writer and are willing to beta-read my fiction, contact me.) After final changes, I submit it to markets. If I don’t place a work after a while, I publish it myself.

This is my process, and I hope to perfect it this year so that I’m regularly churning out story after story, novel after novel. Expect to see more published this year. If learning about my process has been helpful to you, please leave a comment. I’d like to know your process, too.

Guest Post: WRITE FIRST by Heidi Ruby Miller

Do you wish you could write more? Guest blogger, Heidi Ruby Miller, author of AMBASADORA and GREENSHIFT, reveals how she increased her daily word count. Keep reading for a chance to win a copy. You’ll want to, because her spicy sci-fi romances rock with action!

Heidi Ruby Miller, author of AMBASADORA and GREENSHIFT

Heidi Ruby Miller, author of AMBASADORA and GREENSHIFT

I resolved this year to WRITE FIRST.

It was my way of seeing if I could write more. And it worked.

Believe me, I was more surprised than anyone. Over the past five years I had steadily worked out of the century club (100 words per day) to the millennium club (1000 words per day), but then I stalled. I have always been a slow writer, probably because I labor over every word and character motivation, each plot point, the cadence of individual sentences, blah blah blah.

Outlining helped me tremendously once I started graduate school. The planner that I am, I usually had a nice beginning/middle/end worked out, then went from there. When I began to do more extensive outlines (80 pages long), which detailed each scene, I had a rough first draft in no time and a direction to move with the story. That’s when the 1000 words a day came quite easily.

To jump to the next level (like Robert J. Sawyer with his 2000 words a day or Susan Mallery with her 20 pages a day) I needed a little extra mojo. Turns out the solution was simple—write first.

I decided to try my new tactic in 2012 after talking with horror writer and my co-editor of MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT, Michael A. Arnzen. Instead of New Year’s resolutions, he does focus words—words that he focuses on all year in order to make improvements in his life and career. My words were WRITE MORE, but that seemed too broad, so I decided upon WRITE FIRST.

And that’s what I’ve been doing since January 1. I wake up half an hour early to… work through a yoga routine.

Okay, I know you were expecting me to say “write,” but with as much time as I spend on the computer, I wouldn’t be able to move if I didn’t stretch and breathe first thing in the morning. But then I write. Before I change out of my pajamas or make a cup of tea or surf through all my social media sites or before my husband gets out of bed, I sit down and write for at least 30 minutes. That may not seem like much time, but it’s enough to get a few hundred words in or a few pages revised. More importantly, it brings my story front and center in my mind where it stays all day long.

It becomes a trance-like state for me during the rest of the day. No matter what I’m doing, I’m thinking about my characters, plotting scenes in my head. This compels me to sit back down in front of the laptop and keep writing. Before I know it, I’ve sometimes had 3000 words by day’s end or revised four chapters. More typically, I hit 2000 words, but that’s double what I was doing last year at this time.

Granted, I accrue this word count during various sessions throughout the day, not in one sitting—I would have a constant migraine if that were the case. But it’s working. January 2012 was my most productive month ever. So far February is falling a little shorter with only an average of 1500 words per day, but that’s still 500 more than most days last year. I blame the small lapse on the launch for my latest novel GREENSHIFT, which came out on Valentine’s Day. Obviously, more marketing time was required this month. I fully expect my productivity to kick into overdrive in March… by simply writing first.


GIVEAWAY!

GREENSHIFT by Heidi Ruby MillerBe entered to win a copy of GREENSHIFT or AMBASADORA or both by telling us in comments what you’re reading right now and leave your email address disguised something like heidirubymiller AT gmail. Winners will be drawn randomly on March 1, 2012, and announced on March 2, 2012. Good luck!


About Heidi Ruby Miller

Heidi Ruby Miller has been putting too much sex in her Science Fiction since 2005 because she believes the relationship is as important as the adventure. She loves high-heeled shoes, action movies, Chanel, loud music, and video games.

Heidi also teaches creative writing at Seton Hill University, where she graduated from their renowned Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program the same month she appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The writing guide MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT, which she co-edited with Michael A. Arnzen, is based on the Seton Hill program and her novel AMBASADORA was her thesis there. Another tale in the Ambasadora-verse, GREENSHIFT, was just released this month.

Heidi is a member of The Authors Guild, Pennwriters, Broad Universe, SFR Brigade, and Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA).

She lives near Pittsburgh with her writer husband, Jason Jack Miller.

You can find out more about her books and read her author interview series at http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com.