By Michelle King

Light writing (via Flickr)

As its name implies, Write-Track helps you assess your daily writing against personalized goals, but it also offers you the support of a community.

There’s perhaps nothing so cringeworthy as someone saying, “Oh, you’re a writer? That must be so fun!” You might smile tactfully, but inside you want to punch that person in the teeth. Fun? Cards Against Humanity is fun. Writing, at least for those of us who take it seriously, is often hard, frustrating work. At best, it’s a transcendent experience; at worst, you are slamming your head against your desk.

The truth: Writing takes time, self-motivation and commitment. It’s not just about when the muse comes to visit; it’s about saying no to your friend’s boyfriend’s birthday party and yes to a Saturday night sitting at your desk writing. (Real writing, not Twitter updates.)

Launched by Bec Evans, Write-Track is a website that aims to help authors find the time to practice their craft and build better routines. While other sites have inspiring but ultimately impractical advice, Write-Track offers an honest take on how difficult it can be to find the time to write. These are five elements of the site that I found most useful:

1. Write-Track uses smaller milestones to help you accomplish larger goals.

Write-Track was inspired by diet and exercise apps, which sounds strange at first but actually makes quite a bit of sense. Diet and exercise apps often have you set up smaller goals (run five miles) to help motivate you in reaching your larger one (run a marathon). Write-Track uses that same technique. If you want to finish your novel by next summer, for example, the website will set up smaller, regular, more manageable milestones to help you achieve your larger aim.

Write-Track Founder Bec Evans' tracking of her goal to keep a notebook (via Write-Track)

2. Write-Track lets you be honest about not having time to write.

Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I read an interview in which an author says something like, “I write for four hours a day, no matter what,” I find myself deflated, not inspired. Working eight hours a day, five days week doesn’t leave a ton of free time, especially when you factor in the fact that we have to do things like, oh, I don’t know, buy groceries and see friends and family.

On Founder Bec Evans' Write-Track profile, she’s refreshingly honest about the fact that some days are just too hectic to write. “Life just gets in the way and hey, that’s okay,” says Evans. “The key thing is to track it and plan a way forward. Write-Track is all about positively motivating writers, moving them forward, not pointing out what they haven’t done.” To that end, the website includes a “retrospective tracking” function, which enables users to go back and account for missing days.

Write-Track goal page for NanoWriMo 2014 (via Write-Track)

3. Write-Track is a community.

“It can be lonely sitting at your desk writing,” says Evans. The Community section of Write-Track allows you to connect with other authors, see their goals and comment on their progress. If you’ve ever found yourself staring at a blank screen, quietly intoning “Every other writer is more motivated than I am,” a community to turn to can be a real boon. It’s helpful to see that pretty much everyone skips days, has writer’s block or is dissatisfied with their progress sometimes, and you can draw new ideas, techniques and motivation from your fellow authors.

Write-Track Founder Bec Evans' profile (via Write-Track)

4. Write-Track fosters your goals and your dreams.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of Write-Track is that it distinguishes between goals and dreams. Evans explains: “As well as giving people to the option of setting specific goals, we also wanted to give writers the option of sharing their perhaps more fanciful ambitions. … Your dream might be to get a novel published, but the goal might be to complete a first draft. This way you take small steps towards achieving your dream.”

5. Write-Track encourages you to reward yourself — with cake!

The Write-Track blog advocates for “writerly treats.” True, it doesn’t have to be cake — it can be any small item or activity that gives you pleasure and motivates you to continue writing — but let’s face it, it probably should be cake.

Michelle King grew up in South Florida and now lives in Brooklyn. Her contributions have appeared on BULLETT, Refinery29, xoJane and The Huffington Post. Harriet M. Welsch is still her role model and probably always will be.

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