Managing Your Writing Career
By Rusty LaGrange, High Desert Branch


There are so many tools flooding the writing industry today that taking our time to learn them, and then trying to apply them, can really be frustrating. We hear that managing your time is an industry in itself. I’ve purchased several of these software programs, but found them to be a bit more complex than I first thought. Eventually, I just go back to what I’m comfortable with. I’m sure you are nodding your head in agreement.

Here’s a simple tracking tool to help keep your focus on word output. It can be for your own use, a way to monitor others, or even track a word count for a client. You build it and there’s manual to read and re-read.

Open a Word document and click on the tab “insert” for the pull-down menu. Select “insert table.” Make it five columns and 30 rows. (Different computers may have slightly different instructions for inserting tables. Do whatever works for yours or ask for help.)

In this example, I chose a short table and began filling in the data. This simple table is something you’ll need to fill in manually. Yes, I’m sure there are others on the market. This is free. Click inside each box across the top with these titles:

  • Give the first column the title, “date.”
  • Give the second column the title, “feelings.”
  • Give the third column the title, “words.”
  • Give the fourth column the title, “cumulative.”
  • Give the fifth column the title “remaining.”

Here is the only tricky bit. You need to calculate the total number of words your project will require. If this project is a book, let’s say that’s 70,000 words. Put that goal in the header with the word “remaining.” I even changed my top line with a different font to jazz it up a bit, but that’s the way I roll.

OK, you are now the proud owner of a tracking record. Fill it in every day, tracking the date (column 1) how many words you wrote (column 3) and your feelings about that writing (column 2). When you’ve finished that, calculate the cumulative number of words you’ve written to date (just add today’s total to the cumulative number in yesterday’s column 4). And, finally, wrap up your tracking by subtracting the new cumulative total from the number at the top of column five. Then you know exactly how much more work you have left to complete.

My Example

Math is not my thing so I open the Office tool “Calculator” to tally the rows. It’s easy. Thanks to Daphne Gray-Grant at for another great idea for those of us who like to manage our time or need to learn how.


This essay appeared in High Desert’s newsletter,
the December 2017 edition of Inkslinger.
Rusty LaGrange is editor of both the Inkslinger
and the CWC Bulletin.


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