Free Writing Diary and Daily Word Count Tracker

Free Writing Diary and Daily Word Count Tracker

Ever wondered which day of the week you’re most productive on? Or which project you’ve spent the most time writing? Or even just what your average words per minute is? This free writing diary will do all of that and more!

At a glance…

This is a Google Doc that you can copy and use to track your writing goals and progress. It will automatically calculate words per minute, daily writing total, words per project and more, and it can be modified to do just about anything you want with your writing data.

Backstory

I’m a writer, but I’m also a bit of a data/tracking nerd, so I built this daily word count tracker for my writing group about a year ago and we’ve been using it ever since. We use it to track our progress and motivate each other to keep writing.

Who’s this for?

Anyone. But particularly people that want an easy way to track their writing progress and totals.

You might be REALLY into your writing data, or you might just want to see a cool graph of your writing at the end of the year.

What does it do?

Calculates and displays writing totals, charts, and graphs based on what you input.

It can be as detailed as you want it to be. I use it to track hourly writing sprints with project specific tags, but I know people who use it for simple, rough daily writing tracking by entering their estimated totals at the end of every day.

 

How does it work?

You enter your writing totals and the time you spent writing. It does the rest.

I added an explainer to the document, so hopefully it will be easy to understand how to use it even if you’re new to spreadsheets or gdocs.

 

It looks complicated!

It really isn’t! It takes five seconds to add a new entry if you know the hotkeys and everything should just calculate automatically after that.

 

Why use this tracker?

It depends what’s important to you. I personally love it because it is both eminently modifiable and as private as I want it to be. Track (or don’t track) anything you want. Share (or don’t share) anything you want. Learn a bit of “Excel” and you can expand this into anything.

Have questions or recommendations?

Please email us at admin@bookspry.com or reach us on twitter

Also, I’m a writer not a…spreadsheeter, so there are probably formulas that could be optimised, etc. I’m always happy to hear about ways to improve it. Let me know if you see something.

That’s it. Hopefully you find it useful. Keep writing!

How to Choose (and buy) a Pre-Made Book Cover

Your book is in the editing phase and boy, is it a doozy

Your long days of writing and editing and rewriting (and worrying the book will never end) are finally behind you.

It’s time to get a cover.

Unless you are rich in design skills yourself (or have a lot of money to throw at a custom book cover design) chances are pre-made covers are the perfect fit for you.

 

How does it work?

The process itself is quite simple and is basically the same regardless of where you get your cover.

Step 1: You find a cover you like, contact the seller, request whatever alterations are allowed by the terms of the website (often this is only the author name and any credits included in the design)

Step 2: The seller confirms the cover is available and they can meet the request.

Step 3: You pay, and the artist sends you your cover in the form of an image file (usually by email and typically it’s a .jpg).

That’s it. Pretty easy stuff. Now…what should you look out for when picking a cover?

Cover Quality

 

This part of the process is very subjective, but look at the covers in your genre. Go to Amazon Best Seller lists, check out what’s currently selling.

Look at A LOT of them.

Not just the top ten. Remember that Stephen King is going to sell a million books no matter what’s on the cover. You want to look for themes that show up repeatedly in your genre. Preferably covers by indie authors like you. Make notes, save some of the images to use as a reference.

 

Have an idea for what will work in your genre.

 

Terms

Questions you should ask about the company you’re dealing with:

  • How flexible is the company or artist you’re buying your cover from?
  • Do they have a money back guarantee?
  • What’s their turnaround time (and does it really matter to you)?
  • Do they offer any alterations or revisions other than the author name?

Ultimately, some of these will matter to you and some won’t, but more flexibility is better.

 

Price

This one seems obvious, but actually deserves a bit more time. People are drawn to lower prices, but remember that this cover will likely be the face of your book (your book!!!) forever.

This isn’t the time to try to save $20. It’s the time to find the right cover for you. One that you really like and that suits your story. One that people will get excited about.

When you find that cover, buy it. You’ll thank yourself later.

Shopping for pre-made book covers right now? Check out the bookspry.com pre-made cover collection!

Review: “Romancing the Beat” by Gwen Hayes

Review: “Romancing the Beat” by Gwen Hayes

You want to know how to structure your romance novel?

Not sure how to meet-cute? Are your characters Fighting For Love, when they should be Retreating from Love? Feeling a little lost? Then you need to read this book.

At a glance…

Readability

Usefulness

Motivation

Value

Overall Score

This is the gold standard for romance writers.

If you’ve spent any time hanging out in writer forums then you’ve probably already seen people talking about including ‘the beats,’ or ‘hitting the beats.’ This book is what they’re talking about. Gwen lays out a plot structure, a series of beats in a certain order, that you should incorporate into your romance. 

This is starting to sound a bit formulaic, right?

You have an interesting idea for a plot, you don’t need someone else to come along to and tell you how to write your novel for you! Part of the joy of being a writer is that you get to make all those decisions. BUT the romance beats are purely for the romance part of your book. You can still have a wild and adventurous plot separate to the romance. The beats are there to make sure that the romance doesn’t get stale. If you want two characters to fall in love, then you have to follow a certain pattern or it won’t be believable.

Gwen takes all these unwritten rules of storytelling (and human nature) and crystallises them for you in an easy to understand nicely digestible way. Her book is short, easy to read and comes with 80s music recommendations to accompany each chapter and get you in the mood.

I honestly don’t have a bad word to say about this book! …However, I know that some people can get quite annoyed by the very idea that romance arcs are as unvaried as Gwen implies.

Sure, in real life, people fall in love in all sorts of ways; romance can take all sorts of forms but romance readers expect certain things. Gwen’s beats aren’t supposed to be a strait-jacket to your creativity. She is giving you a recipe, that you can add your own tropes and plot into.

The Good:

The beats. If you’re a romance writer then you need this book.

The Bad:

Strangely enough, the bad about this book is the same as the good. Gwen only discusses romance beats. There isn’t anything else in this book; it caters to a very specific audience and if you aren’t in that audience then there really isn’t any point reading it.

Pearls of Wisdom:

People who read romance have certain things that they want from their books. You can do all sorts of interesting and imaginative things with your story, but you have to bear your audience in mind as you write; or, as Gwen puts it:

“Don’t betray your readers!”

See our other reviews here.

Looking for some inspiration?!

The bookspry team wrote a book of writing prompts and it’s available now! Weird and wacky prompts to bust you out of that rut…or to distract you from your real work.

Reddit for Writers: Best Subreddits for Authors

Reddit for Writers: Best Subreddits for Authors

No matter if you’re sitting alone at home, or surrounded by people in a cafe, writing is always lonely work. It’s you and your brain, creating characters, worlds, and plot. It helps to be able to find places that will allow you to connect with other, like minded people, and Reddit is a perfect site to connect with fellow writers and discuss pretty much every aspect of your writing (or your reading, as we discuss in our Reddit for Readers article).

Reddit.com is a site made up of thousands of communities, known as subreddits or subs. Each community is different, each one built around a different topic. Some are small, with few subscribers and others are larger with far more subscribers. Some subs are small but subscribers post and comment frequently, keeping the sub active.

There are so many subreddits! So many! In 2008, there were 10,000 subreddits. As of 2018, there are 1.2 million. That number is only going to get larger, and as it gets larger there are, potentially, more communities that would be interesting to you. The only problem is, when there are so many subreddits, how on Earth can you find the subs you want?? It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack.

This is a list to make your search for subreddits easier; 

Generic

/r/Writing (~580,000 subscribers)

This is a big subreddit, and if you’re looking for a subreddit about writing, then is probably the very first one you’re going to find (for obvious reasons). It’s an inclusive community, there for everyone who writes, so that means that there are published authors on there, self-published writers, fanfic writers, people who have some great ideas for a plot and just want somewhere to chat about how to get started. r/Writing welcomes them all.

 

If you’re writing in a specific genre then it’s a good idea to talk to other people writing in the same genre as you. I haven’t included all genre-based subs on this list, but these are the biggest and the most active. The following genre based subs are great places to explore the stereotypes, tropes and technology of your genre:

 

/r/Worldbuilding (~320,000 subscribers)

A large and very active subreddit that is a great place to brainstorm your world building ideas. If you’re writing sci-fi or fantasy stories then this is a great place to discuss your ideas and make sure that everything makes sense. Maybe you’re stumped because your plot needs a certain type of technology in you story, but you’re not sure how it would work, then this is the place to ask for help!

 

/r/Screenwriting (~284,000 subscribers)

This is a large, active and very well organised sub. I’m not a screenwriter myself, but I really like this sub. They are a welcoming and friendly bunch who are always willing to help you out with your sorting out the wrinkles and holes in your plot. I’d definitely recommend that everyone join this, whether you’re interested in screenwriting or not, there’s a lot of overlap in the tools and techniques different types of writers use.

 

/r/Erotic authors (~15,000 subscribers)

A great community for getting started in publishing erotica. Actually, no scrap that. This is a great place for getting started in self-publishing. Sure, they talk in terms of publishing erotic, but make no mistake, these folks have a real understanding of the mechanics of self-publishing and how to market. Discussions here tend to emphasise the nitty-gritty of publishing success and marketing strategies, rather than storytelling. Which means it’s actually a really useful subreddit for anyone interested in Self-publishing, even if you’re not writing erotica.

/r/Self-publish ~20,400 subscribers

This is a friendly sub to join if you’re not sure where to start on self-publishing.

 

/r/Sci-fi writers ~13,000 subscribers

A great community for exploring your sci-fi ideas. Really supportive and creative atmosphere, where everyone is willing to chip in and help you work out the science and mechanics of your story. However there is little emphasis on actual publishing.

 

/r/Writers of Horror ~5,000 subscribers

All about the inspiration, and helping each other develop storylines and plots. This is another great place to get help with genre specific writing.

 

Tools for Authors

Reddit isn’t just about being sociable. There are subreddits that can inspire creativity, ones whose only goal is to try and help you with your writing. These subs are aimed at making you a better writer:

 

/r/Destructive Readers (~17,200 subscribers)

This is a subreddit that I love to hate! This is a place to post your writing and have people just tear it apart. Readers will tell you all the mistakes that you made; why that paragraph that you agonised over, carefully making sure that every sentence flows, actually sucks and you need to rewrite it. This is tough love! It’s difficult to hear some of these criticisms. It’s certainly easier to just ignore this subreddit. No-one likes being told they’ve done something wrong! But, as painful and as brutally honest as this subreddit is, the purpose of this sub is actually really good. It may be called Destructive Readers, but the purpose of all this criticism isn’t to simply be destructive, the purpose is to make you a better writer. Putting yourself out there, exposing yourself, is incredibly tough – but I guarantee this sub will make you a better writer.

 

/r/Writing prompts (~13,000,000 subscribers!!)

This is a massive sub with lots of subscribers and it is incredibly active. People post short writing prompts, then writers come along and write short stories based off that prompt.

Yeah, you’re in the middle of writing your novel/screenplay/autobiography, do you really need another distraction? Yet another writing project? Isn’t the life of a writer already too full of all kinds of tempting distractions and opportunities for procrastination.? Yep, but this one is actually worthwhile!

One of the greatest problems can be getting started on a writing session. It’s been far too long, (no matter how long it’s actually been, it’s been too long) since you last sat down and wrote, it’s tough to get back into that creative groove. This is a great way to get your brain fired up and the creative juices flowing.

You look through the today’s prompts, There are loads to choose from, and you can always scroll past todays and keep on looking at older prompts if nothing grabs your attention.

There’s no minimum to what you write, and no maximum. You can write any length. If you end up straying from the prompt then it doesn’t particularly matter.

So there you are, your brain firing off new ideas, words pouring through your keyboard and suddenly you’re creating something, you’re creating an entire unique story. Just a few minutes earlier you were feeling stuck and didn’t know where to start.

It’s basically a really great writing exercise to get you started.

Now, here’s the thing. By posting it online, people can see it. And people are going to read it. And they might even comment on it. For me, that’s one a joy of this community. I hate showing my writing to anyone else but this sub has really helped me with that. It is such a supportive community, with all sorts of positivity and energy, even for the shortest offerings. Subscribers have a genuine eagerness to read and that’s why this is such a great subreddit.

 

SHAMELESS PLUG!

We have our very own collection of writing prompts that you can get on Amazon!
Click here to check it out!

 

/r/Word Count (~2,400 subscribers)

This is a small and very quiet subreddit. There isn’t much chatter going on here. You simply make a post, saying how many words you wrote today, or this week. You’ll get some upvotes for your post, but probably not any comments. This is a place where you can proudly declare how hard you’ve been working! I love this subreddit because it keeps me honest. It’s tough to slack off when you know that you’re going to be publicly held accountable for how much you wrote today!

 

/r/Writer Chat (~2,100 subscribers)

So you joined reddit because you want to talk to other writers but posting messages and waiting hours for a reply isn’t the social activity that you hoped it would be…Well, then this is for you. The subreddit has a live chat that you can join any time of day. You don’t need an account to join the chat, just type in any nickname and get chatting straight away. If you like that nickname, and you want to use it in the future so that people can recognize you, then you’ll need to start an account to reserve that specific nickname.

There does tend to be more writers wanting to chat at the evenings and weekends, those are the busiest hours. Still, even during the quieter hours, there’s always people around. I really love this chat, not because I’m a sociable and chatty person, but because of how easy it is to start a fifteen-minute writing sprint, competing against anyone who’s hanging out in the chat and wants to join in too. I find writing sprints to be such a great way to buckle down and start writing. Getting into a writing sprint where I’m competing against other people always makes me write faster! I’m definitely more productive when I’m doing writing sprints.

 

/r/Review Circle (~1,300 subscribers)

This one is for the self-publishers. If you have a published work and you want to get some reviews, then this is a place to ask for it. There’s no guarantee that you will get reviews, even though you’re giving away a free copy of your book. Still there’s no harm in asking and the more reviews you can get, the better your book will look.

 

/r/Hire an Editor (~400 subscribers)

You’re want another pair of eyes to go over your work to check for spelling and grammar mistakes? Or maybe you just want someone to tell you if the plot actually makes sense? Well, this is the place! 

 

/r/Hire a Writer  (~10,000 subscribers)

This is a place for writers who are looking for work.  The jobs that get posted here tend to be small, one-off projects, but it can be a good way to dip your toes into the world of paid writing.

 

If you’re a writer, then there’s a very good chance that you love books. I know I do! I just love the look of them! I love the feel of a book in my hands. Whether it’s a brand new book and there’s that special feeling that I’m the only one who has ever opened these pages, or whether it’s second hand, with a cracked spine and dog-eared pages, I still love them. Which is why I enjoy these subs:

Lifestyle

 

/r/Writers things (~1,100 subscribers)

Because we all need more memes in our life and memes about writers make me feel like I’m not the only procrastinating writer in the world. Alright, this one probably won’t make a better writer, but it is fun!

/r/Book Haul (~9,000 subscribers)

This is a sub where people post pictures of the books that they’ve just bought. It is surprisingly addictive. I know that I often get excited when I see what books people have bought! Most times these are photos taken after a shopping spree in a second hand store, and I’m often very jealous of the bargains that people have found! 

/r/Bookshelf (~24,000 subscribers)

Here people post pictures of their beautiful bookshelves. I just love zooming in and seeing what books people own!

/r/Writer Motivation (~7,000 subscribers)

This is a small sub and unfortunately it’s not terribly active. However I still subscribe to it, because a) I need all the motivational help I can get b) the only way to make a sub more active is to participate in it! Most of the posts are memes or jokes about writing.

Alright! We finally got to the end of the list! I have just one more sub for you. Maybe I haven’t listed enough subs for you and you want to keep looking. This sub is the place to start searching for what you’re looking for:

/r/Writing Hub (~8,700 subscribers)

This is not an active sub, and it hasn’t been active in years. Yet thousands of people are still subscribed to it. Why on Earth would anyone still be subscribed to a sub that has basically been dead for the last four years? Because on sidebar of this subreddit is a list of all the other subs that are useful for writers. It’s a really useful catalogue. Unfortunately, because the sub is older and inactive, the list of subs is no longer complete. I wouldn’t recommend subscribing solely for this catalogue, but I would recommend that everyone take a few minutes to check it out!

.

Review: “5k Words per Hour” by Chris Fox

Review: “5k Words per Hour” by Chris Fox

Want to write faster? Of course you do.

If you’re struggling with getting your daily word count up, there’s a good chance this book is for you…but be warned, there isn’t any magic formula: it’s going to take a lot of work to actually get up to 5k an hour. The main lesson of this book is accountability and ways to stop procrastinating. Now, that’s obviously very useful, it’s just not the quick fix that I’d hoped for from the title.

At a glance…

Readability

Usefulness

Motivation

Value

Overall Score

Want to write faster? Of course you do.

If you’re struggling with getting your daily word count up, there’s a good chance this book is for you…but be warned, there isn’t any magic formula: it’s going to take a lot of work to actually get up to 5k an hour. The main lesson of this book is accountability and ways to stop procrastinating. Now, that’s obviously very useful, it’s just not the quick fix that I’d hoped for from the title.

Have you ever set aside a few hours to write and felt that sense of excitement? You can feel the hours stretching ahead of you, totally free of any other responsibility, and you’re going to get so much written. It’s going to be glorious. And then, out of nowhere, it’s four hours later and you’ve only written a few sentences.

This book is for everyone who never wants to have that feeling again. Chris’s advice to stop this happening is two-fold. First, learn to focus on your writing. Easier said than done, right? He does have a lot of good ideas. Some are pretty practical and obvious, i.e. turn off your internet when you’re trying to write. Others are more original; he explains how to use writing sprints to focus and increase your words per hour.

I really like the idea of writing sprints and that, if I practice enough, then over time I’ll be writing more and more in each sprint. Personally, that hasn’t worked out for me. I sprint in fifteen-minute bursts and, no matter how focused I am, I write the same amount in a sprint as I did a few months ago. However, I know a lot of people who absolutely rave about Chris’s writing sprint technique so maybe it’s just me.

The problem is, Chris is not the first person to recommend writing sprints. Do a little research and you find that this is pretty conventional wisdom. You don’t need to buy this book to find out how sprints work. Chris explains things slowly and clearly. He puts a bit of a unique spin on the concept and on how to record your sprints. But I would really like the book to be a bit cheaper when his advice isn’t exactly earth-shattering.

Chris’s second piece of advice is to keep track of the amount of time that you spend actually writing, how many words you write in each session, how often you’re doing sprints. It’s about making yourself accountable. This is great advice. It’s really easy to lose track of how much time I actually spend writing. I feel like I write every day. If the chapter I’m working on isn’t finished yet, well that’s because it’s a tough scene and it’s slowing me down. By keeping track of my writing it stops me from making those kinds of excuses. I can look at my spreadsheet and see for myself that I’m getting less done because I’m spending less time writing. Now, maybe I’m spending less time writing because I’m in the middle of a tough scene and I’m not enjoying it…But keeping a log of these kinds of details means that it’s impossible to lie to myself.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking to write faster and avoid procrastination. Even though not all Chris’s techniques worked for me, a lot still did. His writing style is upbeat and full of infectious enthusiasm. I finished this book, put it down and felt inspired, and I bet you will too.

The Good:

Chris’s book made me feel invigorated and excited to get writing, and isn’t that the most important thing about a writing book?

The Bad:

Chris created an app that helps you keep track of your writing sprints using the method that he outlines in the book. This is a paid app. You don’t need his app to use his method, but there is a good chunk of a chapter that reads like an advert for his app.

Yeah, Chris, I know the app is only the price of a cup of coffee…but I already paid for your book and it turned out to be a commercial for something else you want me to pay for. It’s not great.

Plus, the app doesn’t even work…

Pearls of Wisdom:

I want to write faster but it can be disheartening how often I get told that writing must be a slow process, how if I haven’t spent a decade on a book then it’s somehow lacking in merit. I like this quotation that explains what’s wrong with that attitude:

“The gal who’s been writing the same chapter for two months might find just the right words, but you’ll have learned how to convey emotion, show motivation, how to describe a scene, how to craft dialogue, and a dozen other skills she’s never even considered because she’s written a grand total of 20,000 words in her entire career.”

We made a thing!

We made a thing!

writing prompts for all ages by bookspry.com

The exceedingly awesome team here at bookspry finally put their drinks down long enough to finish their first collaborative book! This book of writing prompts is fun, silly, creative and thought provoking all at the same time. But more importantly, it’s actually good. 

You can get it on Amazon now for the price of a cup of coffee!