map my writing

Perhaps you are familiar with the app Map My Run. It’s a fitness tracker. Primarily it uses GPS data to track your distance and time (since obviously you are bringing your smartphone with you when you job, right?).  Jogging isn’t a big part of my fitness routine (I’m more of a P90x guy), but I track all my workouts there. And, of course, you can share them on Facebook and Twitter. My wife, who is more of a runner, loves this app. It updates her with distance and speed. The result being that she’s gone farther and faster in the last month than at any time in the last 10, maybe 20 years.

So how about a map my writing app? Sure, quantitative data regarding writing is probably less valuable than such measures for physical fitness. And yet, a simple measure of how many words and how much time you spend each day (you do write every day, don’t you?) could be instructive and motivating. I’m no programmer (obviously) but I’m imagining an app that could get into the metadata of your word processor files and measure time and count words. Then perhaps there could be some categories to help organize the different kinds of writing one might do. Could you cheat? Of course you can cheat. You can also turn on Map My Run and drive around in your car (and now I’ve just revealed my plans for next April).

Why would you want to do this? Well, for some people, most people, writer’s block can be a serious problem. I am thinking particularly of students writing dissertations or, more accurately, not writing dissertations. You don’t have to share what you wrote, only that you did. And there, in your Facebook timeline or wherever you can see your progress and your friends’ progress. Maybe this breeds a little friendly competition. Or maybe it just keeps you committed to working. Once you start posting on a regular basis, you start holding yourself to the expectation that you shouldn’t miss several days in a row.

I don’t have an app to help me, but today I worked for 90 minutes and wrote 973 words of my book. Here’s another 20-30 minutes and 367 words (so far).  It doesn’t sound like much, but a 1000 words a day for 3 months is a monograph. 90 days of P90X didn’t get me six-pack abs (sadly), but it did get me in great shape. 90 days of writing 1000 words a day may not get me a finished monograph, but it will put me in great shape to finish a book within a year.