Howdy, fellow word nerds! Welcome back to the Notion for Writing series. This collection walks you through how to set up a “second brain” for your creative writing life in Notion. The series covers everything from linked character sheets, settings, and worldbuilding pages to project tracking, writing tasks, and creative exercises. Today, I’ll show you how to set up a Notion word count tracker template. Let’s dig in!
What is a Notion word count tracker?
Your word count tracker is where you log your daily writing sessions. It lets you see your daily word count goals and totals at a glance. Ideally, your word count tracker is a database with relevant fields like:
- Name of the scene (Title property)
- Date (Date property)
- Project (Select or Multi-select property)
- Goal word count (Number property)
- Actual word count (Number property)
- Difference (Formula property that subtracts the actual word count from the goal word count)
Sure, you could set this up yourself. Or, you could save yourself an hour or two with the free Notion word count tracker template pictured above!
Why Notion is ideal for word count tracking
You might be thinking, “Sure, this all looks cool. But is Notion really the best solution for tracking word counts? Why not use a spreadsheet or just view the history on my writing software?”
Totally fair (if hypothetical) point. Here are a few reasons why tracking word counts in Notion works better than other methods like spreadsheets and paper trackers.
Create unlimited filtered views to see your writing progress in context
I created a word count tracker spreadsheet for 2020 and abandoned it by spring. As robust as it was, the process was too clunky. I created sheets for each month with rows and columns for the dates, projects, word counts, and notes. Then, I set up multiple formulas on each of those sheets. Once I had the monthly totals, I copied and pasted those onto my main yearly tracker sheet… It got cumbersome fast. (And back then, I wasn’t as savvy with spreadsheets as I am now.)
Notion filled in all the pieces I felt were missing from my process — no spreadsheet-savvy required. It’s easy to create and duplicate filtered views with all the information you need in a couple of clicks.
Here are a few custom views I use regularly:
- Monthly word count totals
- Totals by project
- Totals by type (freelance, blog, creative)
Because you can duplicate and edit filtered views, it’s super easy to set up new ones or update existing ones whenever you need to.
Reflect on your daily writing sessions
If you want your word count tracker to double as a reflection journal, Notion templates are a lifesaver. Create a new template with reflection questions for each session so you don’t have to type them each time. (I’ll show you how to do that shortly!)
Here are a few sample questions sourced from my own Notion word count tracker templates:
- Did I meet my word count goal for today?
- Did I experience writer’s block? What caused it?
- Challenges and distractions that hindered my writing progress:
- How I overcame challenges and distractions:
- How I feel after completing this session:
- Other notes:
Do you have to include reflection questions? Absolutely not! Which handily leads me to my next point.
Customize your tracker however you want
You have tons of customization options at your disposal when you use Notion to track your word counts. What works best for me: a daily writing log database embedded on a writing progress page. Here’s a sneak peek of my setup:
Note: I use the Notion Enhancer mod loader for desktop — your page might look slightly different.
I recommend one of two setups for your writing progress page:
- Create an inline table on a new page
- Set up a full-page database and embed it on a new writing progress page
Whichever you choose, you’ll likely want a space where you can add other elements, like:
- Writing goals
- Total word counts across projects
- A list of monthly totals
You can’t add any text or blocks to the white space within full-page databases. That’s why I recommend having a separate page to get the most out of your Notion word count tracker template.
Track multiple projects in one place
Sure, if you’re just working on one project at a time, you can probably get away with using your existing writing software for word count tracking. But, if you’re like me, you’re working on multiple creative and professional projects at a time across several apps.
I prefer tracking all my writing progress in one place. This lets me see how much time and energy I spend on client work compared to creative work. Plus, it cuts down on tab-switching and app overload.
Notion’s filtered views offer a seamless, hassle-free way to track multiple projects. Trust me — I’ve tried just about every method under the sun for tracking word counts across multiple projects, and Notion is the fastest and easiest.
How to set up a word count tracker in Notion
Now, it’s time for the fun part — the tutorial! Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating your own Notion word count tracker template. (It’s easy peasy — there are only 4 steps, and one of them is optional.)
Step 1: Create a new page
For this step, you have two options:
- Create a writing progress page first, then create an inline table on that page. (Type “/” on your keyboard, then “Table – Inline”.
- Add a new full-page database, then embed that database anywhere you like in Notion using the “Linked database” slash command (see below)
It really doesn’t matter which option you choose. (You can still open inline databases as full pages in Notion if you’d ever like a full-page view.)
Step 2: Customize your database
Once you’ve created your database, it’s time to add properties. Here are a few ideas:
- Name of the scene or chapter (Title property)
- Date (Date property)
- Project (Select or Multi-select property)
- Word count goal (Number property)
- Words written (Number property)
- Difference (Formula property that subtracts your words written from your word count goal)
- Notes (Text property)
Tip: When you set up your number properties, scroll down to the bottom of the table and click “Calculate,” then “Sum” to see your totals!
Step 3: Create a formula
Setting up a formula property to calculate the difference between your word count goal and your word count totals is easy. This is the formula I’ve used in my free Notion word count tracker template:
prop("Goal") - prop("Words")
Replace “Goal” and “Words” with whatever you’ve titled your number properties, and voila! Notion will automatically calculate the difference for you in a separate column.
Here’s an example:
Step 4: Create a template for your daily writing sessions (optional)
You can easily create new entries from templates with pertinent information already filled out. Here’s how to create templates for your word count tracker:
- Click the dropdown arrow next to “New” in the upper right-hand corner of the database.
- Select “New template.”
- Customize your template however you like — add an icon and cover, set properties, and add body content.
Ideas for your daily writing session template:
- Reflection questions: If you’d also like to use Notion as a writing progress journal, creating a template makes it easy to reflect each day.
- Templates for each project: Set properties for your project so you don’t have to update this property manually for each entry.
- Word count goals: If you want to write the same number of words each day, add your daily word count goal to the template so you won’t have to type it in each time.
Tracking word counts in Notion: final thoughts
Your Notion experience is entirely customizable. Set up a simple word count tracker using the walkthrough above. Or, go all in and create a robust writing dashboard in Notion that covers every element of your writing life.
If you’re new to Notion and you’re hesitant about investing a lot of time in the app, grab a free word count tracker and start experimenting!
Consider yourself a Notion nerd? (Join the club!) Discover how Notion can level up your writing life with a sneak peek at my Notion Writing Dashboard template pack!
Every element of your creative writing life, in one place
35+ pages and templates customized for creative writers, by a creative writer
All the databases in this template pack are linked to show you every element of your story in context. All your characters, settings, story worlds, individual writing sessions, and more are at your fingertips.
Welp, that’s it from me! Go forth and start tinkering with your Notion word count tracker template. Got questions, comments, suggestions? Drop a comment below or hit me up on the socials.
Hi, this is a great tutorial on setting up a writing dashboard. I was wondering how you were able to make the progress totals above the inline table?
Hey Kristin, thanks for commenting! So glad you found this guide helpful. The progress titles are manually added. 🙂