I had a brilliant idea when I woke up this morning, why not use Livesplit for writing throughout the day? Livesplit is an application used by speedrunners to track the times they complete a game, down to hundredths of a second. So why not use it for writing?
I’m already getting into the habit of using it for my gaming, so why not use it for my writing? It allows for a number of cool features that could help my writing move along, and it could probably help anyone that’s as goal oriented as I am.
Tracking Segment Time
Speedrunners track time based off a collection of smaller segments to see if they are steadily improving and to allow a target goal for each level or area. If you don’t know how well you run a particular segment, then what are you using for a basis of comparison?
What counts as a segment with writing?
I thought about this a bit. At least for now, the most obvious segment I could come up with was 500 word increments. At least for now that seems realistic for me since my target article size is 500 words and when I’m writing for fiction that could be anywhere from half to two beats of a story.
I’m keeping separate splits saved as well, one I call “Article %” for when I work on the blog articles.
As you can see, I also have a segment for adding pictures and any final finishing touches on the article. It’s also important to me that I left it at 500 word minimum and not just stop as soon as I hit the goal.
Well, for one, that’d lead to really boring formulaic writing that I’m not really interested in for the blog. Now the fiction, that’s downright formulaic…
Personal Best Tracking
Another goal that can be tracked is the Personal Best, or PB, for a game. If this were Lost Levels you’d see my PB is 20:22. It would stay there until I beat it and the timer will use my PB as a basis for comparison on the entire run.
What about writing?
For writing it’s going to track the completion of a finished blog article. I still haven’t decided what a complete “run” for fiction is going to be yet. Maybe 3000 words? Is that realistic? I don’t know. I guess I’ll find out as I move on.
Sum of Best Segments
This is where it can get real fun. Livesplit actually keeps a historical record of your fastest individual segment times and creates a sum of your best segments. This is your theoretical PB. What is achievable by your skill alone.
After a few “runs” writing these blog articles with Livesplit I’ll know exactly what my best article times can be and I’ll be racing towards making it my real PB.
Data Nerds Rejoice!
I plan on tracking my daily PB in a huge excel file. Not only will I be tracking my article PBs but also anything from my fiction writing.
I have this awesomely data-driven plan:
I’m going to track a month to month writing-per-hour goal so that I can see when I’m most productive and what works for me and doesn’t.
I thought so too.
Future Revisions are Easy
If I decide later I want to add another 500 word segment, maybe called “The next 500 words”, it doesn’t disrupt all the recorded times. After the next run, the times will have a new segment best there and I can proceed from there in the future, which is kind of nice considering how indecisive I am.
What’s the catch?
Ease of Use
Livesplit isn’t the most intuitive program to use, and I think every speedrunner has cursed setting it up to their liking at some point.
It can definitely be a hassle. I’m not even sure if I’d recommend it for every writer, but if you’re willing to experiment and you’re as easily distracted from your work as I am, it might be something to look into.