Calculating your novel’s completion date #spreadsheet #authortools


I know a lot of authors are obsessed with their daily word count, but to be honest I’ve never found it particularly useful, or motivating. Anyone can turn out 10,000 words in a day. Just type the word ‘wibble’, highlight it (along with the following space), and then hold your fingers on CTRL-V for five minutes. There you are: 10,000 words. Don’t ever say I don’t give you anything. No, I’ve always maintained, in a rather snooty arrogant way, that getting the ‘right‘ words down, first time, is far more important than churning out 10,000 words of wibble on a daily basis.

That is until my agent told me I needed to be turning out two books a year, and suddenly snooty arrogance wasn’t going to cut it any more.

So, if you follow me on facebook you’ll notice that I have, recently, got into the habit of posting my daily word count, usually under a picture of someone at a typewriter. But along side this, and my excuses for the day, is my average daily word count.  

Average Daily Word Count is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the total number of words I’ve written so far, divided by the number of days since this current project began. And for me, it’s a whole lot more revealing than your regular word count.

For starters, being an average it smooths out those peaks and troughs: It reigns in my enthusiasm when I’ve managed to bash out 2,600 words. But it also encourages me when all I’ve managed are a measly 500. It also discourages me from going back and editing previous days, and it punishes me for days when I haven’t been writing. ADWC shows me exactly what kind of a writer I am. There’s no hiding from it.

But most of all, now that I’m working out my ADWC, it’s possible to extrapolate when I should theoretically finish my current ‘work in progress’ assuming I continue at the current rate… and being the total nerd that I am, that’s exactly what I do! I post my estimated completion date! And that is very motivating indeed.

Of course, you’ll realise by now that I work all this stuff out using an excel spreadsheet. There isn’t anything in the world that can’t be achieved with a good excel spreadsheet. If it sounds like something you might find useful, you can download a copy for yourself, here.

word count

To use the sheet simply replace my numbers in the blue squares with your own

  1. In cell C10, type in the estimated length of the book you’re writing. Novels are generally between 60,000 and 100,000 words depending on genre.
  2. On row 16 type yesterday’s date, and the total number of words written so far.
  3. On rows 17 onwards, type the day’s date, and the new total word count. The sheet will work out the number of words you wrote on that day. It’ll also update all the stats above, including your ADWC and your estimated completion date.

There’s even another tab where you can cut and paste today’s stats and paste them into twitter or facebook with minimal editing.

Feel free to share the spreadsheet all you like. And if it works for you drop me a line. If it doesn’t work for you, or you’d like it amended in someway, or you screw something up and need it fixing – well drop me a line anyway and I’ll see what I can do.

And if you like this spreadsheet you might like my other one that helps manage your story’s timeline. You can read about that here.

In the meantime, what’s your ADWC? Post it in the comments below.

TGGGTGTG sidebar

Hot news; my debut novel The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl is part of Amazon’s 99p Summer Book Promotion. Get my quirky, lad-lit, rom-com for less than a quid! But hurry – the promo is for July only!

The film will be along some time in the next decade.