Scrivener workshop – using a writing target word count

I am typically not a great planner when it comes to my writing work. I get the job done in a random fashion that bounces about from the start, to the end, to the middle, and all over the place. As a poor planner, scrivener has a number of features I have found invaluable to assist me in getting on with the task of writing a book. The project target feature is a great little prompt to help you keep on track with your writing targets, and to celebrate your progress along the way.

Accessed via the menu. Project | Show Project Targets

scrivener - show project targets menu

When I am writing, I have no pressing deadlines other than the ones I set myself. I usually pick a date and see how it comes out for the daily word count.

I write scifi, so I always pick a genre specific target for the whole book of 90K. Generally, I write 10k more than I intend, but hack about 10k out during editing.

This is the main Manuscript target box you see when you select the above menu option. It just floats like this over the top of you project, or as in my case, I drop it over the bottom corner of my second monitor.

scrivener - Show project targets dialog

It’s super easy to set up.

Select the options button at the bottom to show the next dialog. Here you can set your proposed date, writing days etc.

scrivener - show project targets - options

You can play around with the options to suit your preferences, but a few things worth noting.

  • I have some chapters which are potentially going to get chopped and / or are just bullet notes, so I tick the count documents in the compile only option to avoid muddying the count. You set the ‘include in compile’ against each folder (chapter). If you are not using this ‘include in compile’ feature then untick this.
  • Deadline – I like to play about with the target date and see what the word count per day pops out at. If you know roughly how many words you can achieve a day, you can work out a sensible target date.
  • I like to allow negatives. Sometimes when you are editing this can be a little disconcerting, but I still like to think about my overall target. If I chop out 500 words I just have to work extra hard to make my day’s count!
  • The writing days picker is good if you know you have definite days of the week you don’t write. I tend to just leave as is, and then write over-target on good days.
  • I use the default  reset the session count at midnight, but if you are a late night writer, you may prefer the reset on project close or one of the other session target options.
  • Tick the show target notifications if you want a happy little bong when you meet your target!

Once you are done in the options, click Ok, and head back to the main dialog.

Now Hit the Edit button. (It will then become Apply)

scrivener - edit target count

The manuscript word target can now be edited. After you have set the target words hit Apply. Your target session count will pop out.

Note: you can change words to pages or characters if you prefer. I like the default basic word count. (Click on words next to your manuscript target count)

I tend to jump in and out of the options to change the project deadline based on the total manuscript target until I get a realistic target per day.

I’m sure a target glaring at you from the corner of the screen will not work for everyone, but if you have not tried this feature yet, then you may want to give it a go. Writing a book is a long process and anything that helps you to celebrate the progress and the little wins along the way can only be a good thing.

I would love to hear from anyone already using this, and whether you find it useful or not. And anyone thinking of giving it a trial for the first time, let me know if it helps! 🙂

30 thoughts on “Scrivener workshop – using a writing target word count

  1. This is very interesting. I’ve heard other writers talking about Scrivener for several years, but no one bothered to explain how it could be used to achieve a daily word count. Daily word count is something I strive to achieve when I’m writing rough draft, but I’ve always simply used LibreOffice’s bottom bar to keep track.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I confess to being a big scrivener fan for many reasons, and I love the word count in the drafting phase. It definitely helps me stay focused. Worth noting that I am using the Mac version, not windows version, and it has some different features (Unfortunately as Angie mentioned above, the windows version does not have the target count).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I work on a Mac and have for the past 15 years … I suspect I wouldn’t know where to begin if a Windows machine was put in front of me.
        As I recall, one person who raved about Scrivener liked it because they could make file folders an put photos of the characters, etc. in them. Of course, that was years ago. I, too, use file folders to organize ‘inspirational photos’ and articles for my projects.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I love pictures! I have stashes all over. I even have some collections on Houzz, where I keep files of settings… actually, if I could figure out how to download them, I wouldn’t need to store them on Houzz.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry a quick question; I’m thinking about buy this programme because of what you and others say about it but I have nearly finished my draft. Is it easy to import all my chapters and notes or should I just wait until my next book?


    1. It depends if you want to break up your story into chapters or just pull it in as a big blob. I have honestly not played around with importing into scrivener from word say. But you could easily just cut and paste the whole lot in or do it a chapter at a time (there may be other ways I don’t know of). In terms of how much value it will add post draft… The major things I like about scrivener, is using chapter folders to easily plan and move chapters about. A stage your are possibly already past if you have finished the draft. The other thing I love is the export feature from scrivener to my kindle for reading as part of my editing phase, which could be very useful still depending if you have a kindle or want to give it to someone else to read on a kindle. I think you can get a 30 day trial and it may be worth a little play to see how you go. It is a big product and it does take you a little time to work our how to use it best for you, and it is easier if you are starting a book from scratch.
      I do love scrivener though, and I can’t imagine writing a book any other way now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All my chapters are currently separate document but some are 7k and others 2k so it will need swapping around. There is a lot wrong with my first draft so I will have to do some major re-writes I was hopping scrivener would help with the organisation of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, it will definitely help to organise it. I colour code my chapters (folders in scrivener) for POV, but you can use all kinds of setting to help you organise the work. They also have chapter status i.e. todo, first draft, revised draft, done, so you can quickly see which chapters are still in progress, which need work etc. And dragging them about is super easy if you decide you want to move them or break them up.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.