Excel and Dragons Writing Tracker

I was reading through Chris Fox’s book on improving writing speed, 5,000 words per hour, and decided to make an Excel-based writing tracker to help writers, NaNoWriMo participants and myself.

This isn’t the only word count tracker for writers out there, but I think the direction I’m taking alongside Chris’s book make it at least more interesting. It’s made for Excel but could be easily converted to work in a Google docs spreadsheet by taking a peek at the formulas I used.

Chris’s 5,000 Words Per Hour instructs would-be writers on how to improve their speed incrementally. It has some solid advice in it, and even links to a mobile phone app and Excel spreadsheet to use for free. However, the app is for iPhone and iPad only and I’m a dedicated Android user. I was also incapable of getting the Excel link to work when I needed it and am easily distracted.

On the upside, I wanted to gamify the process a bit more than he hints at in the book.


First, I wanted to implement health bars similar to how Bit Boss Battles does it for my stream. When viewers donate bits on stream, there is a live notification on-screen showing the boss taking that amount of damage. The “boss” in this case is the previous donor. Their HP is the donation they gave.

For the Excel tracker, I implemented this by introducing a minion and a boss. The minion is a target writing speed. By default, it is set to 150% of the initial writing speed logged in the tracker. Each time you complete a writing sprint, you can log your time and see how much “damage” you did to the minion.

The boss needed to be larger and more menacing. I made the boss a project tracker. Instead of a progress bar, or a burndown bar, indicating how far we’ve gone. I made it an inverted percentage of job completion. This is how much “health” the boss has left from their initial word count goal. By default, I set this to 70,000 words or about the length of a light novel.

There are also a few achievements to be unlocked as you fill out the tracker. I only have a few in the initial commits on GitHub below, but I plan on adding more as I figure them out or they are suggested.

Long Term Goal

Let’s be honest: I’m not that great of a hobbyist Android developer. I make little tools and scripts to help myself most. Hell, I’m still learning python (I have a GitHub repo for my Automate the Boring Stuff lessons!).

But from what I’ve played with, I think I could make this into an Android app given enough effort on my end. It’s not outside my capacity and knowledge at least. The only real limitation would be motivation and depression, but we’ll see how it goes!

Android app aside, I’d still like to add a few more things to the Excel spreadsheet.

Grab It

Grab the file over at GitHub here: Excel and Dragons

Leave a comment below if you have any ideas, suggestions or if you have your own method to gamify your writing. I’d love to hear about it!