How Best To Use The Target Tracker In Scrivener

How to Compile a kindle ebook in scrivener  ‘A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,’ – Lao-Tzu

Word targets are the life-blood of the full-time writer. A novel is a big piece of work and if your only milestone is the completion of it, then you’re going to get lost up your own fountain pen. The only sensible way to track progress is by setting yourself a daily word target and, as usual, Scrivener provides the perfect tool.

Like most writers, I have struggled with the concept of word targets. You come to writing with delusions of sitting outside French cafes with a Gitane in one hand and a Creme de Menthe in the other, waxing lyrically about the hem of an exotic ladies dress and life waits patiently until you have finished your musings… or was that just me? Anyway, reality is seldom as exciting as our dreams.

I started writing with an expectation of being able to write a whole book  in a month. That then changed to 6-weeks and then 2 months, and so on. Writing is an art form like no other. If you’re a painter then you finish a picture, the canvas stays the same size throughout and you just add flourishes to it. Writing is about the nitty-gritty of getting words down on paper, if you get enough words down then you end up with a book. But first thing’s first, you have to get the words down on paper.

You need to be able to set yourself a word target everyday if you can. It has to be low enough that it won’t get in the way of your life otherwise you won’t stick to it, but it has to be high enough that you get through your book within this lifetime. I’ve played around with a number of aspirational targets but I’ve found that 2,000 words is my personal sweet spot. (In this post I calculate the optimal word targets for you)

Writing is a manual job and for this you need a toolbox, fortunately Scrivener is like a B&Q Depot for writers. Now the target is working well for me, I’ve started using the target tracker in Scrivener. Here’s how you do it:

  1. In the Project menu at the top, select ‘Show Project Targets’
  2. Within here you can edit the manuscript target or the session target, or both.
  3. Once you have applied your target, keep the box open and click on the ‘full screen composition’ mode.
  4. It keeps the box open and you can move it to a place that does not distract you.
  5. The bars then change colour the closer you get to your target.

Another target you can set is in the document/chapter/page, one of the text files on the left hand side.

  1.  For this, click on the target in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
  2. Set your target.
  3. An indicator will now show at the bottom of the document, again changing colour the closer you get.

I tend not to use this one because I find it hard to know how long a chapter’s going to be at the beginning.

Sticking to word targets will make you a more prolific writer. It will keep you focussed and it will edge you ever nearer to achieving your goal. 

Has anyone else found the word target tool working for them?


18 responses to “How Best To Use The Target Tracker In Scrivener

  1. I don’t know what it is but trackers motivate me. I love this aspect of Scrivener and it is why I tend to read much faster on Kindle than from a physical book (I can’t give up physical books but I do read them slower). I seem to just want to get to the next made-up target. I will write/read to 10% completion becomes 15% becomes 20% and so on. It is a huge help when I’m feeling lazy or tired.

  2. John K. Fulton

    Since I discovered the session target window, I’ve used it constantly – I set a target of 1000 words, which is enough to keep the project going at a reasonable clip, even with the distractions of work and life going on, and then I can feel virtuous when I manage to hit 1200 or 1500 words in an evening.

  3. As a participant in Nanowrimo (50,000 words in 30 days), I find Scrivener’s word trackers absolutely indispensable. With a non-movable deadline that’s only 30 days long to begin with, it’s critical to stay on target, because there’s no time to get caught up.

  4. Pingback: How Best To Use The Target Tracker In Scrivener | Everything Scrivener

  5. I use the Target for everything I write in Scrivener, particularly blog posts that I like to have around 500 words. I sometimes come up short and sometimes exceed the target, but it’s nice to have that visual working right along with me.

  6. I see no possibility of writing a book without targets anymore. Initially I was using only the total and daily target. But I’ve found that this is very superficial.

    When I met the possibility to have targets for the whole book, I forced my self to have this number of each chapter. Now I have a much clearer understanding of when I’ll be able to finish and in what speed I need to write to deliver to my editor.

    I have no words to describe how much Scrivener makes my life easier. The writer who’s not using it, is losing BIG time.

  7. I love using the project target tool. It’s really helped keep me on track and consistent in my writing.

  8. Great post. I haven’t used the tracker yet but I will tomorrow.

  9. Pingback: 5 reasons to write your thesis in Scrivener | Academic workflows on Mac

  10. Have you encountered any issues with changing your word count? I find that I can change the document word count but it doesn’t update. I have to close out of the program and go back in to see the change, sometimes two to three times. No one associated with the program has been able to a) understand what I’m talking about b) resolve the issue. I’m wondering if it’s a bug in the program? I don’t use word counts for chapters for the same reason you don’t, but the global target is very motivating and I find I write much more–when the target is correct. However, having a word count that exceeds my project target is distracting. Curious as to your opinion on this.

    • I’m afraid I’ve never seen this happen either. I wish I had so that I could help. Sorry. At least if it works when you close out and come back in, then you can do that each time. Annoying though, huh?

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