I find " Project Target " to be very a useful feature in Scrivener for Windows 1.5.3; it enables me to get a direct measure of my productivity or otherwise.
Wonder whether it would be possible in future versions to link the session and project targets
with a calendar so I can track my progress on a weekly basis ,say and in working to deadlines. It would also make it possible to compare planned output with actuals.
What I do at present to achieve the same end is to copy the session totals for each day
from Scrivener into an Excel file that I have set up for the purpose so that I can add
up my total number of words for each week.
Every day I reset the Project > Project Targets back to zero so I can see what my word count is for the day. And I then record it in excel every day, before resetting it the next day.
I would much prefer it if this was automatically tracked every day in Scrivener without having to take the intermediate Excel step.
Anthony Trollope used to work for three hours a day. 30 minutes would be spent reading the last days work, and then 2 and a half hour working. He aimed for 250 words every 15 minutes - 2500 a session - and he recorded how many he did every session in a notebook so he could track his progress over time and make sure that he was being productive.
A lot of writers were immensely productive before the computer arrived (Georges Simenon comes to mind, who used to write a novel in 11-12 days) or even typing machines (Trollope, as mentioned). One should take this into consideration. I for myself found that keeping a log of how much I write a given day by hand has a palpable deeper effect on my motivation, compared with a software doing this for me (which I had as well for years).
Computers are just a tool. Jeffrey Archer wrote his prison memoirs with just a pad and paper in prison. And of course pre computers everyone did.
I tend to think though that if Trollope had access to Scrivener he would have preferred the software to do the recording of time worked and words written over time.
Computers are simply better at it. Mores to the point I think its a good first step, but not the end of the game.
Stats are one of those things that you can always leave alone if you don’t like them. But if you do… then the software quietly recording how many words you write in a day, how much time you spent working, how many words an hour or even every 15 minutes you write is actually potentially really helpful.
It can tell you for example under what circumstances you consistently produce less or more, and charts progress in concrete terms.
Apart from anything it records in stark detail how much you are really working, which is really useful come the end of a week or month, or longer when memory fails, or you never took the time to painstakingly record longhand how much you actually worked.
These are useful measures of progress.
If it takes 10,000 hours to become “expert” in something (as Malcolm Gladwell would have us believe) then its useful to have a reliable measure of that.
I understand what you mean, but I can tell you from my experience that this function will most likely not have the effect you’re imagining. I used a text processor which had all statistics you can think of and then some, plus charts, plus reports (how many keystrokes per year?), and it didn’t help much except giving an idea what amount of work I was capable of at that time. Which I more or less could have calculated by counting the pages I’d written and doing some math. But it had no effect on me. It didn’t improve anything.
And that was exactly because the computer did all the recording quietly, without needing my attention. Therefore, my attention was elsewhere.
I started this “record keeping by hand” because I had to, accidentially, you may say. And it was only then when I became aware that something was different. Yes, I had to develop the habit of counting the words in the evening (well, of course I don’t actually count the words: I call up the word count function, write down the total and calculate the difference between today and yesterday), writing it down, comparing it to what I had planned (“uh-uh, I’m back five thousand words – better I cancel my city trip tomorrow”) – and it was exactly developing this habit that kept my attention to the productivity aspect of writing.
I would really love this feature, too. I track my output in Excel but I find it’s hard to keep an accurate count as sometimes I forget to do it or don’t have time to do it. If there was a built-in way to keep track of your progress over time and timestamps and perhaps produce simple infographics (bar charts over time) that would be an amazing tool for self-analysis. Alternately, allow that information to be exported easily into another program for further analysis. Like Aeon Timeline there could be another add-on program that syncs and follows information from Scrivener.
The reason it would be better to have this auto-handled by Scrivener is that then I wouldn’t have to remember to do it every time I work to get an accurate picture of my progress. Sometimes I only get ten or fifteen minutes to focus and write and spending more time tracking things in Excel would hurt my overall output, but if it was built in, when I want to get a little perspective, the information would be available.