Welcome back to the Notion for Writing series! Today, I’ll show you how to use Notion to track multiple creative writing projects. You’re probably here because you’re juggling several projects at once — a short story here, a poetry collection there, maybe even a book series.
With so much going on, it can be hard to keep everything straight. Why use Notion to track your writing projects? What will you need to set up a Notion writing project tracker that suits your needs? Let’s dive in!
Why use Notion to track writing projects?
Preview of the Notion writing project tracker featured in my Notion for Writing template bundle!
Chances are you’re here because your current project tracker isn’t serving your needs. Maybe you heard about Notion from a friend or read about it on a productivity forum. And you’re wondering if this app is really worth the hype.
Take it from someone who uses Notion not just for tracking her writing projects, but also all her client work and even some fun stuff too — Notion is a powerful solution for project tracking. Here are 3 reasons why.
Notion combines the functionalities of several apps and programs in one clean, minimal interface. Word processing? Check. Spreadsheets and databases? Check. Task managing capabilities? Check!
As much as I love writing software, it’s not always the most intuitive solution for tracking your writing goals and progress. Sure, you can plot your narrative down to the smallest details. And some apps, like Scrivener, let you set writing targets and track your writing history. But that’s usually as far as it goes. (Feel free to leave a comment and correct me if I’m wrong!)
From tracking your daily word counts across multiple projects in one place to keeping a writing reflection journal, Notion is a more robust alternative.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried countless methods for tracking your projects — notebooks, task management apps, note-taking programs. But something was always missing.
Notion offers a range of blocks, formatting options, and database views to give you maximum control over your content. For beginner and intermediate users with no coding knowledge, Notion’s interface is just customizable enough to be effective. Which means you can spend less time fiddling with colors, fonts, and formatting and more time actually tracking your projects.
Notion also connects with other apps and programs like Google Calendar via third-party API programs like Automate.io and Zapier.
Unlike some writing software options out there, Notion is cloud-based*, which is one of the (many) reasons why I love it. Mobile apps for Android and iOS are available, and everything syncs instantly.
*Unfortunately, Notion doesn’t have a true offline mode yet. If your internet drops out when you’re working in Notion, your changes should sync once you’re back online.
How to create a writing project tracker in Notion
Now you know why Notion is perfect for tracking multiple writing projects. But how do you go about setting up a Notion writing project tracker? You can take a few different approaches. Let’s explore!
Step 1: Create a new page
Consider this your “project hub.” You can choose to set up your projects in a database, or create a new page for each project outside of a database. Personally, I like the database option better, especially if you’re using Notion to track word count progress. (We’ll talk about that more later.) If you’re not planning to use a database, skip to the “ideas for your Notion writing project tracker” section of this article.
Step 2: Create a new database
This can be an inline database or a full page — whatever works best for your needs.
Step 3: Add properties
Properties are the editable fields in your database. I recommend starting with these basic properties:
- Project Name (Title property)
- Deadline (Date)
- Goal Word Count (Number)
- Words Written (Number)
- Progress (Formula)
- Type (Select)
- Status (Select)
- Relations to other databases (Relations)
Some of these properties, like relations to other databases, are optional. But if you’re plotting your novel or collection in Notion, I recommend including all these fields.
Step 4: Add templates
If you’re tracking several similar projects in Notion, consider creating a template that automatically populates information in each new page. Here’s a sneak peek of the writing project tracker template from the Notion for Writing template pack:
This template includes embedded databases used for settings, worldbuilding, character building, and research storage. These databases are separate from the Notion writing project tracker template and are linked using Notion’s linked database command.
Ideas for your Notion writing project tracker
We’ve covered how to set up a basic project tracker. Now it’s time for the fun part: customizing it for your needs! Here are a few more ideas to jazz up your Notion writing project tracker.
Word count progress
I recommend creating a word count tracker in Notion to make this step easy. (Or, you can just download the word count tracker I created for you for free!)
I suggest adding these properties to your project tracking database so you can see your progress at a glance:
- Goal word count (Number)
- Actual word count (Number)
- Progress (Formula)
Here’s what your word counts might look like once you add the numbers:
Here’s the formula I adapted to calculate writing progress in a visually appealing way (credit to Notion wizard Ben Smith for creating the original):
if(prop("Words Written") / prop("Goal Word Count") >= 1, "☑️", slice("✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦", 0, floor(prop("Words Written") / prop("Goal Word Count") * 10)) + slice("✧✧✧✧✧✧✧✧✧✧", 0, ceil(10 - prop("Words Written") / prop("Goal Word Count") * 10)) + " " + format(round(prop("Words Written") / prop("Goal Word Count") * 100)) + "%")
You can replace the diamonds and blue check mark emoji with whichever symbols you like.
One cool thing you can do in Notion is embedding databases on any page. Say, for example, you have a word count tracker. You might embed this tracker in your “project hub” so you can easily see how many words you’ve written and easily update your totals each day. Here’s a snapshot of what that might look like:
If you’re working to tight deadlines or have a ton of tasks to manage, why not create a separate writing task tracker in Notion? Embed a calendar or timeline view of this database on your projects page so you can see all your deadlines in one place.
Check out a sneak peek of the Notion writing task tracker I created for my writing bundle:
Relations to other databases
You can link databases together in Notion so you can see relevant information stored elsewhere. For example, you might want to create separate databases for:
If you’re building a full-service plotting tool in Notion, you’ve probably experimented with building all these databases. Create relations to link everything together so you can see all your materials in context.
If you haven’t built a full-service plotting tool in Notion and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, don’t fret — I’ve already done it for you!
Every element of your writing life, in one place.
35+ Notion pages and templates, including project tracking, characters, settings, research, worldbuilding, creative exercises, and so much more!
The Notion for Writing template pack includes a Notion writing tracker template, plus character sheets, research storage, creativity exercises, and so much more.
Notion writing project tracker template: wrapping up
That wraps up my guide to creating a Notion writing project tracker! Hopefully you’ve got some good ideas to get you started. As you continue to tweak your workflow in Notion, experiment and get creative. Build something that works for your needs — that’s the most important (and beautiful!) part of using Notion to organize anything, not just writing projects.
Got questions about creating a “second brain” for your writing life in Notion? Hit me up on the socials or in the comments! Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss a tutorial:
Thank you for reading — happy writing, and happy Notioning!