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13 free writing meters, progress trackers, and word counters

Whether you’re trying to keep up with NaNoWriMo or a New Year’s resolution, competing with fellow writers, or just looking for a little extra boost to your public accountability factor, using a visual word count meter can be just the ticket to keep your fingers moving.

Below are the 13 best places I found to get free word counters for your blog, social profile, or website. (If you see one you like, click the site name in large print to get it for yourself.) Some are simple. Others have a bunch of options to let you play with the design and style. Please note: I have not tried all of these, so — as always — use your own good judgement.

With any of these tools, unless noted otherwise, you can manually adjust the number to reflect your own individual writing goal. Also, if you select one of the meters which relies on outside image hosting, keep in mind the image you’ve chosen could experience some overload the first few days of November and go blank for a moment or two as the WriMos descend back into the cybersphere. Hang in there. You know we drop off like flies.

(Click the bigger, underlined link above each list item to visit any of these sites and get your own meter.)
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Here’s where to find the good stuff:

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Writertopia

There are two meters available at this site. One is a simple HTML tag, which looks like this:

Writertopia word counter screencap 1

The other is a cartoon featuring an unwitting writer guy with a mood you can tweak at will. According to rumor, he celebrates with a drink when he’s reached his goal. Here’s what he looks like in the throes of full-tilt computer rage:

Writertopia word meter screencap 2

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Honorless.net

This word tracker is a simple HTML progress bar which does not rely on outside images. The site gives clear instructions on how to tweak and recolor it to your liking.

Honorless writing progress meter screencap

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Language is a Virus

The counter below is another self-hosted cut-and-paste HTML code, and color can be modified easily.

Language is a virus word meter screencap

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StoryToolz

Here’s another HTML tool, but this one displays a word meter which can be clicked on — by you or anyone else — to view your daily progress statistics. This is the meter:

StoryToolz writing tracker meter screencap

And this is a screencap of the sample report shown on the site:

StoryToolz daily writing progress statistics screencap

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Sarra’s Word Meter

This counter does not have to be manually updated (as a few of the others do), so the benefit is that your code only has to be pasted in once. It works by using your Facebook login info, and you can toy with various color combinations to customize the display.

Sarra's writing progress bar screencap

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Critique Circle

This is a visually clean and streamlined meter with more rounded edges. (And possibly my personal favorite in terms of style, though I haven’t really decided which one to use on my own blog.)

Critique Circle word count meter display screencap

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Svenja Liv

Here’s another rounded word bar, and I have to point and giggle at the instructions: “Don’t enter anything except numbers, because the form can’t generate a percentage with non-numeric characters. You can’t really blame it; bet you can’t, either.” I love her already.

Svenja word display progress bar screencap

From the same artist, there’s a NaNoWriMo spreadsheet you can download which comes in several designs:

Svenja nanowrimo progress tracker spreadsheet screencap

And if you’re tracking your work across the entire year, she offers a yearly spreadsheet, too:

Svenja yearly writing progress tracker spreadsheet screencap

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ProgPress

For those of you, like me, using WordPress, here’s a plugin to help you manage your writing goals. It works via shortcode, can be modified using CSS, and could be pasted anywhere into your theme or layout. The developer includes coding tips on how to take it from basic black all the way to textured and image-based:

progpress word count display meter screencap whole gamut

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Dave’s Whizmatronic Widgulating Calibrational Scribometer

I definitely didn’t Google any of those words. But how cool is that name? (Very, I know!) This scribometer — I swear, I’m going to figure out how to work that word into conversation once a day from now on — also comes in the form of a WordPress plugin and can be pulled in as a widget into your sidebar. It can be modified to various colors and sizes, too, and the site shows this as a basic starting point:

Dave's Scribometer WordPress writing progress tracking meter plugin

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iGoogle gadgets

If the iGoogle homepage is your thing, the gadget directory shows several NaNoWriMo-specific tools which look pretty neat. (Actually, even if it’s not your thing, it shows it anyway. Semantics. You know what I mean.) One of the tools will compare the progress of your whole NaNo buddy list at a glance, and another will track the word counts for you and a competing friend side-by-side. Unfortunately, these may not be as cool as they sound; the time may have passed when they’d work properly. When NaNoWriMo reworked their site from scratch,it may have affected the compatibility of the Google toys. On the bright side, if there’s was enough demand for these to exist before, there’s a good chance they’ll exist again or be upgraded themselves. Keep an eye on the search results and let me know if you find one that works for you!

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Sidenote:

I kind of packed the keywords into that post up there. But here’s why: I had a heck of a time finding these things!

I’m a Google fanatic, and usually pretty quick on the keys, but it took me more than ten minutes and twenty searches to find exactly what I wanted. I looked for a word counter. I looked for a manuscript progress meter. Display of word count. Writing word count. Novel widget. Word tracker, word counter, word tool. Book progress tracker. NaNoWriMo counter for blog. Sidebar counter, sidebar meter, sidebar bar, even. “Stupid progress thingie!!!!111.”

Nada.

I tried lots of things, but until I got to the magic phrase, which turned out to be “word count meter”, most of my searches were completely fruitless. And stressful. And aggravating. Therefore, I decided to gather what I found into one post, include all those remixed phrases, and hopefully save someone else the same hassle. If you’ve had success with any of these or if you know of others that should be on the list, please let me know in the comments!

 
(top image credit)

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11 Responses to “13 free writing meters, progress trackers, and word counters”

  1. Lauren Wayne says:

    Thanks so much for doing the Googling work for me! :) I’m trying to find a good progress meter for editing my novel. From my NaNo experience, I know I need the visual feedback that I’m getting somewhere. I’m going to check out all the links you’ve collected — thanks!

    • WFYS says:

      No problem. Very glad you found it useful, and thanks for saying so!

      And good luck on the NaNo front! I’m currently on Day 4 and looking at a measly Day 2 word count. Let the stressing and nail-chewing begin. :)

  2. Svenja Liv says:

    Hey there, thanks for the link to all my stuff! I’m glad you liked my instructions too. :D

    • WFYS says:

      I loved your sense of humor, haha, and of course, the images were gorgeous. I couldn’t resist.
      Thanks for making them available in the first place! :)

      • Tushar says:

        Maureen / on TwitterI tried NaNoMo once and I froze. Which is weird for me. Up until last year I wrote three full pages in my juronal every. I have over 60 books full of my words that came because I wanted them to and not because of NaNoMo.I stopped because I’ve acquired arthritis in my right hand and can barely hold a pen. I know I can write a juronal on my computer but I’m a proponent of Julia Cameron and she always insisted in writing by hand. I’m sure she would say that if I had no other choice but to type she would be okay with it… but I’ve hit a brick wall with this.I also tell myself that I’ve run out of space to put all the juronals. I even told my kids when I die they can have them. They both looked like deer caught in my headlights.My daughter commented that she had no desire to read what I wrote about her and her rocky journey in High School. My son blanched at the thought. LOL kids

  3. nina says:

    thanks for the info. I have been looking for a good word count widget all day.

  4. Rob Kroese says:

    Thanks for finding them! I was having a heck of a time finding them myself.

  5. Anjani M says:

    The best app for writing/editing a novel I’ve found is Scrivener. Made by and for writers. It’s invaluable!

  6. For word counter tool, I would like to suggest this site also: http://wordcounttools.com. It’s handy and reliable.

  7. I wish instead of html codes and such that someone actually had a word platform (like King Software or Microsoft word) that actually kept track of what I wrote for that day. I am in the middle (literally) of two books I am writing. So it’s not like I can just use my cursor the copy what I wrote and paste it into a word counter lol. I literally have words everywhere because I am adding to the story in various stages in the book.

    • WFYS says:

      Good point! Hmm. What I’d love to see is something that runs in the background and tracks a total keystroke for the whole computer, which you could ideally turn on and off. I wonder how many words I spend every day in emails and Facebook posts.

      I might be afraid to know that.

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