I’ve written about Pacemaker before, but this will be a more comprehensive overview.
There are more and more apps out there that help you track what you’ve already done. Where Pacemaker shines is that it helps you plan how much you need to/can write.
When you set up your plan you’ll be asked how much work you want to do, and how that’s measured. Many writers use words as their measuring stick, but you can also choose from a long list that includes hours, pages, chapters, scenes, stanzas, and more. You can set up a daily target, or an overall target. And you’ll choose the date range you want Pacemaker to measure.
Translation: Do you want to write 1000 words a day, or 30 hours across the whole time period you define?
Pacemaker then does all the math for you and generates a graph with your daily work goal, depending on one of several Strategies.
“Steadily” assumes you’ll write the same amount every day, but you can also choose to start with smaller daily goals and steadily increase them, or start with a big daily goal that decreases. There’s also an “Oscillating” strategy that will cycle up and down, and a “Randomly” setting.
That’s very cool, but it’s not the coolest part. That comes under Customizations.
Let’s say you work a 9-to-5 job and are likely to get way more words in on the weekend. Pacemaker has settings for that.
Say you’re writing during NaNoWriMo and you know you have to take a few days off for Thanksgiving. Pacemaker will let you identify the days when you can’t write (or are likely to write less).
Have a weekly write-in? Set Wednesdays to as “do more” days. Got a writing retreat scheduled? Set those days to “Push!”
These are the sample plans you can take inspiration from:
- Nanowrimo, with gradually decreasing word counts, skipping Thanksgiving Weekend
- Nanowrimo, skipping Tuesdays and Thursdays
- Nanowrimo in the second half of November!
- Twelve Days of December Writing gradually increasing word counts every day
- Hard core writing in Spring 2015
Here’s a November-oriented example I made:
Here I told Pacemaker:
- Goal: A total 50,000 words in between Nov 1 and Nov 30.
- Strategy: Steadily, with Gentle intensity.
- Nov 1, do more (Starting excitement!)
- Mondays, do less (Weekly meeting so less time to write)
- Sundays, do more (Write-in)
- Skip Nov 26 (Thanksgiving day, will be busy)
The outcome is that most days my goal will be to write 1,568 words. On my Do More days I’ll aim for 3,135 words, and on Do Less days I’ll do 784 words.
If I meet my daily goals, I know I’ll finish my 50k by the end of the month. NO MATHING REQUIRED.
(I’m not a fan of math, obviously.)
Should I use Pacemaker instead of the official NaNoWriMo word trackers?
No one’s going to yell at you if you do, but there are some pros and cons of both.
Both can be used throughout the year. Both can be used for free.
nanowrimo.org is completely free to use, which is awesome. You may or may not like the big redesign they did recently. It’s most useful for people participating in NaNo.
Pacemaker has a clean interface, and is most useful for people who have tricky schedules to plan around.
The word trackers on nanowrimo.org will keep an archive of all your NaNo projects over time, which you can refer to (I topped half a million words written on NaNo projects in 2019). It’s very cool that I have some 15 years’ worth of novel attempts catalogued there. Pacemaker’s free plan only lets you retain two plans at a time, with no option to archive. For more you’d have to pay on a monthly or annual basis, which also gives you the ability to run writing challenges with friends and a few other features.
The two sites don’t talk to each other, unfortunately, if you want to keep a record in both places you’ll have to do that manually. If you want your NaNo profile to reflect your current progress you’ll have to update there. If you’re not keen on everyone knowing how you’re doing, Pacemaker is a better choice.
You can always confirm a NaNo win without inputting your daily progress. You will have to declare a new project for the season.
Whichever you decide to use, you’re going to rock your writing project.
Use the power of bullet journals to prepare for NaNoWriMo
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