6 Word Meters and Trackers for the Word Count Obsessed

And what writer isn’t slightly obsessed by their current work-in-progress word count? I mean, apart from well-adjusted ones.

Well, I’m a little obsessed, sometimes. During NaNoWriMo, of course, my mind gets as focused as a diamond-cutting laser on little else….

Without further ado, here are six word count tracking utilities from around the web. The examples are drawn from my current Crime and Violins serial, which has been running almost regularly with 500 words per week.

1. Zokutou Word Meter

Update: Zokutou is no longer working.

2. Writertopia: Picometer and Progress Meter

Two different progress meters from Writertopia, one very slimline:

And one rather verbose and feature-filled:

including a mood for the cartoon character, who looks rather like a bean or potato:

The downsides to the Writertopia meters is, because the images are generated by a server, it’s probably going to fall over the first few days of NaNoWriMo when that comes along—other word count meters have stopped being offered entirely due to the November traffic rush.

Update: Bill from Writertopia comments on meter stability and alludes to new meters later this year!

3. Curious Device: Another Little Progress Meter

A small progress meter that doesn’t depend on images; the CGI script here will generate code for you to use. An example:

5500 / 100000

Hovering your mouse over the bar will probably show the percentage.

This meter has the decided advantage that it won’t fall over during NaNoWriMo load. If you know CSS well enough, you can also play around with it:

5500 / 100000

4. Language is a Virus: NaNoWriMo Word Meter

Here’s another word meter that doesn’t depend on images, and displays the percentage outright as well. Not as svelte, but again, you can play with the CSS if you want to.

5500 / 100000 words. 6% done!

Again, not going to fall over when NaNoWriMo arrives.

5. Gnomebox: Writing Projects Plugin

Rather full-featured, this is a WordPress plugin. (No, this isn’t for you, WordPress.com folks who aren’t allowed to install their own plugins; this is for self-hosted WordPress installations.)

I used a few tags provided by the plugin here, to display the current title, current number of words, and current progress bar. Displaying the percentage doesn’t work for me, and while the word count will always be dynamically updated, no matter when in your blog you show this meter… the problem is, the word count will always be dynamically updated, no matter when in your blog you show this meter. So if you wanted a historical progress of your novel, well, it doesn’t quite work.

Otherwise, it’s nice, and—since it runs on your server—won’t fall over when NaNoWriMo comes.

6. Gnomebox: Daily Word Count Plugin

Another WordPress plugin, this doesn’t provide any word progress meters, but it does go beyond the others: it keeps a historical record of how many words you’ve written each day, and can summarize the counts in various, more flexible ways. The Daily Word Count can be integrated with the previous Writing Projects plugin, so that updating a project updates the word count (you’ll have to go to the options for both plugins to tell them to integrate with each other, though).

Along with just summarizing counts, including only counting words “up to” a particular date, Daily Word Count can also do calendars, such as for a specific month:

I don’t know if Daily Word Count deals well in all cases with year wrap-around (such as when a project crosses from 2007 into 2008). The Daily Word Count also merges word counts between projects with most of its special tags; it’s best mostly for an aggregate count, although you can show the current total for any one title.

Right now I like it best as a daily word tracker. With calendars.

What I’d Pick

Really, despite all the fanciness of the WordPress plugins, I prefer the simple word count meter from Curious Device. It won’t crash during NaNoWriMo, its footprint is delicate and small, and I’m fine with CSS and thus have no problems changing the appearance.

For those who want a reliable word meter, don’t want/can’t have a plugin, and aren’t all that great at CSS, I would recommend using the meter from Language is a Virus.

For those of us who are Hooked On Plugins, there’s only one solution of course (to install ’em BOTH).

Break for 5

So what do you think about these options? And do you have any meter or tracking alternatives out there? Curious and word-count-obsessed minds wish to know.