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So What’s The Fuss About Writing Journal?

Many writers enjoy tracking their productivity. They’ll keep spreadsheets to see how well they’re writing, filled with rows of word counts, start and end times. This way they can calculate just how many words they are writing an hour. For some, it’s a way to track their progress, to see just how far they’ve come rather than how far they still have to go. For others, however, it’s a way to fine tune their productivity and squeeze the most words they can out of their limited writing time. Whilst keeping this sort of data isn’t essential, many prolific and process driven writers swear by keeping good statistics.

However, the process of timing and recording data can be a cumbersome one. You need a stopwatch to record your start and end times as well as a spreadsheet in which to record your data. It can make the process of sitting down to write a cumbersome and off-putting one, where a number of applications need to be launched before you even start to put words into Microsoft Office or Scrivener.

These things can be distractions and many writers have discovered that by the time they’ve opened Microsoft Word and launched a stopwatch app their motivation to write has gone or they’ve been distracted by something else.

Writing Journal (logo)This is where an app like Writing Journal can help. It might not have the most distinctive of titles, but this Apple iOS app combines both stopwatch and spreadsheet to be your one stop solution to recording your writing sessions. It’s quite basic with very few thrills but it’s the fact that it combines both ways to time your writing sessions and record them within a single app that gives it its appeal.

It is available in two varieties. The first is in the form of a free version which locks you to a single project. An in-app purchase allows you to upgrade it to the premium version. Costing a couple of pounds the purchase unlocks the ability to track multiple projects.

Projects can be labelled as a novel, non-fiction, article, coursework or other. You can even specify a target word count, allowing you to track just how far through your draft you are.

Once all your projects are set up (or you are using the free single project version), simply click the red ‘Start Writing’ button for the stopwatch to start counting. Then, put your phone to one side and focus on your writing session instead. When you come to a natural end, or get disturbed and have to stop writing, simply use your phone to click the ‘Stop Writing’ button. The app will then ask you to enter your word count. Type it in and tap the done button for the app to record your session and calculate your writing speed.

If you make a mistake, it’s possible to go in and edit your data. You can even store notes to yourself on your writing session for later review. Once you are happy that the data is correct, simply forget about it until your next writing session.

Over time you’ll build up data on all your writing projects. Writing Journal will allow you to view your history, enabling you to see what you wrote when. It will also produce some statistics for you, showing you how far you are through your project, your average writing rate, your best number of words in an hour, your longest writing session and other helpful data.

If you want to manipulate the data some more, it’s very simple to export it. Clicking a button will email a CSV file that you can easily import into Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet application. Alternatively, if you just want to show off, you can post a chart of your progress to social media allowing you to gloat to your fellow writers.

The only real downside to Writing Journal is the fact that the app is only available on iOS, meaning if you have an Android or Windows phone then you are currently out of luck. However, maybe if the application sees wider adoption, the developer will be encouraged to bring it to other platforms.

So if you record your writing data and have found yourself digging around in Microsoft Office’s metadata because you forgot to record a start time, consider checking the app out. Now when you sit down to write, all you need to do is pull out your iPhone and click start. And because most people have their phone on them at all times, you don’t have to worry if you are away from your normal desk.

If you’re the type of person who likes to monitor their writing progress and have had difficulty remembering to record their writing data, then it’s definitely worth checking out Writing Journal.


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