Time target goals

Forgive me if there is already a similar request out there, I searched and couldn’t find a relevant thread.

People who do NaNoWriMo and similar activities will have heard of word sprints, where you set a timer for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever, and then write like crazy until the ding. I like to do this exercise, even by myself and not in competition with anyone, just as a way to stop thinking and just write. I also like knowing how many words I’ve written in a sprint session.

What I am proposing is for a way to do this without leaving Scrivener, so I can set the target goal of x amount of minutes, write in the middle of a scene I’m already working on, see at the end how much I have written, and then continue on afterwards. A kind of third target type, so then we’d have Project Targets, Document Targets, and Timed Targets.

Currently, I have to have a separate program, FocusWriter, to able to have this functionality. When I’m done, I have to copy my newly written words over to my Scrivener project at the end of each sprint.

I know some might ask “why don’t you just use an alarm app?” or similar. The point is to know how much I’m writing during these sprints. Currently to do this with just Scrivener and an alarm it seems I would have to start a new Scrivening for each sprint, which is not ideal if I want to add in the middle of a preexisting scene. I don’t even care if Scrivener doesn’t keep a record, just show a popup notification saying “Session finished. You wrote x words in y minutes” and let me worry about remembering the number.

FocusWriter does this. Storyist does this. Why can’t Scrivener, which is overall so much better than those other programs?

I think I’m missing a crucial ingredient in what you are doing here (I’ll admit to knowing nothing of FocusWriter), because to me it seems possible to couple Scrivener with an alarm clock of any kind and thus track both how much you have written against a time challenge. Or it might be that you’ve not encountered the session counter yet in Scrivener? Unlike the word count tool in the footer bar for each individual section, the session counter (use the Project/Project Targets menu command to bring the floating tool up).

All right, so in that tool you can actually set a session goal. Just click in the ‘0’ below the session progress bar and type in your writing goal for this session. Now anywhere you type within the Draft folder will be counted toward the goal. You can skip all over in between scenes, write whole new sections from scratch, it doesn’t matter, it will count every word. If you want it to count everywhere, and not just the Draft folder, you’ll find an option for that in the tool: “Count text written anywhere in the project”.

I’m not sure if you are using a Mac, but it sounds like it given the other software you mention, so in that case notification is available as an option well, either through Growl or the OS X Notification system. You’ll be dinged when you’ve exceeded the goal.

My problem here is that I already use the project target screen to show my total word count each day (I have it set to reset sessions at midnight). What you’re describing would seemingly make it to where I wouldn’t get my daily word counts, because the individual sprint word counts would overwrite that session target section. So basically I would like to have three kinds of targets: overall (project targets) daily (session targets) and timed sessions.

Wouldn’t a sprint be considered part of the daily goal? By that I mean wouldn’t you just leave the session counter alone, do the timed sprint, have that added to the total as you work, and then when the timer goes off you’re back to just counting how much you do in that day. You don’t have to reset the session counter, is what I mean.

Could you create a new document (Cmd-K if you’re on a Mac) when beginning a timed session and then again at the end? The word count for that document would then show you your words for that session. If you are in Scrivenings mode, you will still see everything that comes before and after, and it will compile the same as if it was all one document anyway.

I know what @FadedStardust means. Writing sprints can be done not only by yourself, but in a group of friends. I have a server on discord, and we use a bot called sprinto to run writing sprints. You can set an amount of time to write for, or you can ask the bot to randomize. It can be used competitively, or it can be used for fun, or just to write together with your friends, as a social activity. You tell the bot how many words you have, the sprint starts and you write for the allotted time. The bot pings you when time is up. You report your new word count, and then it tells you your average wpm or wph, who wrote the most, and usually a quote. If I could insert a picture here, I would. But it would be nice to be able to set up and do writing sprints in scrivener.

I find that this sort of writing activity increases my productivity, because I only have so long to write for, and it helps me focus, cause ADHD ftw. It’s hard to get distracted when your writing with friends who hold you accountable for your word count and you tend to get more done. I would love a timed feature for writing. It would help me big time. I’ve even seen artists use the timed feature, they just add a word count for how much they feel they’ve gotten done.

I hope this is very much taken into consideration.

Thanks for describing a bit more of how the process works in the groups you’ve participated in. It sounds like a fun exercise to me as well.

I do still admit to not quite understanding what further the software needs to do here, as it seems to me to already do the most important and difficult thing: showing how much you have written, no matter where you have written. If you’re one to use the session counter for other things, you just note where it was when starting bell goes off and subtract that from where you end up to get the result, right? And if you don’t use the session counter you just click the reset button and go and until the bot says stop! :slight_smile:

If you want to differentiate the words written during a sprint vs. those that come before or after, you can use the revision colors feature.

Just turn on the feature and all new characters will be in another color. When the timer goes off, you can select that colored text, and… right click? I can’t recall at the moment how you view the word count of a selection. Once you figure that out, you can use the command to reset that text’s color. Or you can just go back to standard text color for the text following the sprint and then choose another color to do the next sprint in, giving you a visual history of how much writing you did during sprints, if you like to see that sort of thing.

This is a really neat trick! I will have to try it. I know a LOT of fanfic writers who can benefit from this when they aren’t feeling productive, they can just look back and be like ‘Oh I was productive today!’

Yes, but that bot is in discord, sadly. I’d love if scrivener had a feature like this, since there isn’t a way to do sprints with friends online where you can type in scrivener, and use all the features at hand (split screen to make sure I am remembering something properly, or so I can go back in and add something afterwards…) instead of only typing in the online sprinting site places. If scrivener had a timer setting for writing words in, I could write with the people who aren’t comfortable being in servers, cause they find it too overwhelming, or have social anxiety. We could just set our scrivener to the same time setting, and then hit go all at once, and post our results when it’s over. I know my particular case on this is niche, but I still think it’d be a good idea. Especially for NaNoWriMo, or the different fandom events in various threads across the world. Lots of people would benefit from this, and I am rather sure it would be a feature that Scrivener would be the first to have, if it’s implemented.

Oh okay, well maybe some of that is down to how the bot is used, it seems like. It seems to me a tool like that is superior for making sure everyone is starting and stopping at the same time, but beyond that aspect, how one writes could be totally flexible. You could be off in Scrivener while the timer is going, another could be using Discord if that’s what they want to do and like the social aspect. Another could be using TextEdit. The hard part there is having a timer everyone shares, which Scrivener isn’t going to help with anyway.

I do understand what you’re getting at, but I guess I’ve always been more of the inclination that operating systems let us run lots of software at once so that software doesn’t have to do everything by itself. Or another way of thinking about it is: what material advantage is there to having a necessarily watered down timer tool inside Scrivener itself, when there are so many timer tools out there, from simple one-click tools to stuff with a lot of capability? Some even run purely off the task tray or menu bar area so they are always available no matter what you’re doing, and thus are in all liklihood no less “integrated” with the software you use with it. I’m using such a timer right now, it’s one I use to remind myself to stand up and do some stretches now and then. It runs at the top of my screen, clearly visible from every program I use, and can be pulled up at any point with a global hotkey to restart it, pause it, or whatever I need to do. I can even set it to “lock me out” when the timer goes off, so that I can’t do anything but stand up and take a break. So again, what advantage would I have if that were buried inside of one program?

So in that case we have the timer software doing what it does best, and Scrivener doing the hard part but no more, because that is something no other tool can do well for you: tell you how much you wrote inside of Scrivener. Everything else, from coordinating online meets to setting timers that everyone can see and work from together (or somehow communicating when everyone clicks a button/iPhone screen/physical egg timer, etc.) and so on are better done with tools designed specifically for those unique (and at times complicated) purposes.

I started doing sprints this past weekend and so was looking for an answer to this very question. Resetting the target with each sprint would work but only if I’m not using it for a daily tracker. In that case, Scrivener could have a separate word counter for those people who sprint. Adding in a timer would be nice but at this point I’m inclined to use a separate timer and then use the suggestion of changing the font colour. That’s a very easy solution. Adding a separate word counter that could be reset for sprints would be nice but you’d have to determine if enough of your customers would get use from it.

You know you can do this on the nanowrimo.org, don’t you?


Hit the clock icon, next to the plus-sign you use to update your word count (when you’re not updating from within Scrivener).

Cool. I don’t do my own sprints, I usually end up doing them on discord or the NaNo events but thanks for posting that. I’ve been updating my NaNo word count through Scrivener so I hadn’t seen the timer button.