Making a Word Count Spreadsheet | NaNoWriMo


First few days of November have come and gone and NaNoWriMo is now in full swing. How are your novels coming along? Extraordinary? Poorly? Wherever you may be in your work there is a tool that can help you keep on track for your word count–a spreadsheet!


Now I understand you may be thinking–”Another spreadsheet in my life? Great…” But don’t despair. This is both a fun spreadsheet and it is easy to make. It won’t even cost you a dime. You can use Google’s Spreadsheet from within their Drive (or Excel if you are fancy) to create a word count/progress table. If you don’t want to shell out for Microsoft Office you can use Open Office, which is free – and who doesn’t like free stuff?

The first thing you should do is open a fresh workbook and name it. Now with that clean slate you can name a few columns. I would suggest from left to right; Day, Word Count, and Total. You can optionally include: Chapter, Issue, Character POV, and any other data that may help you keep track of what that portion was about*.


Now fill in the days of the month either manually or by placing a “1” in row A2 with “=A2+1” in row A3. Then you can copy and paste (CTRL+C) and click into A4 and drag down to A31. Once all the rows are selected hold CRTL and press ‘V’ on the keyboard. Remember that your chart has a header so everything will be +1 for your record column.


Now you can enter your word count everyday for better tracking. To keep you on track for 50,000 words keep a running total of how many words you have completed by adding a formula into the ‘Total’ column in C2. Some people prefer having just a raw sum. For this click C2 and put the following equation: “=sum(B2:B31)”.


This will keep just what you have completed. Other writers actually prefer keeping what they have left over. In other words a subtracting total. For this you can do a different equation. Make a new column header called “Words to Go” (or whatever you like really) and put this into D2: “=50000-C2”.


This will keep a running total of what you have left. It is a nifty trick for pushing you to keep going a little further every day**. Now as you add words into column B, the total will add up and your words to go will diminish.

This is probably too much thought into this tool but you can keep adding analytics if you like. Say for instance you were interested in knowing your average words a day. You could add in something like “=AVERAGE(B2:B31)” into a new column and it will tell you if you are meeting your quota.


Well there you have it–a simple tool to help keep you pushing forward. I hope this helps you in your writing. If it’s not helpful (or not fun) don’t do it. It’s about writing, not data analysis. If you would like to download the template for your very own NaNoWriMo word count spread sheet – click here.

Good luck and stay tuned for more tips and tricks to NaNoWriMo!

*Pro Tip–some publishers will ask for a synopsis that is detailed and lists exactly what happens in each section of a book with this kind of information. Keeping it neatly with your manuscript can be a real time saver.

**Thank you to the Norman, OK NaNoWriMo’s for that great idea!




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