What with the massive increase in smart phone usage, there has been an explosion in self-monitoring technologies and ‘tracking’ apps. Tracking basically comes down to gathering data by monitoring different aspects of our lives. It’s become huge in healthcare, diet and exercise where it has made a huge difference to people’s lives. If you’ve ever used apps like MyFitnessPal, Nike+ or RunKeeper you’ll know what I mean.
I’m a habitual tracker. It started in my childhood when my mum timed how long it took me to fetch something compared to my siblings, injecting an element of competition into a basic task. Plus, I have to admit that I was a bit of a swot at school, so I was forever logging my exam revision and my teenage diary was packed full of scribbled numbers and targets achieved.
Getting a smart phone transformed my tracking with apps for walking, running, calories, mood and symptoms. But there wasn’t an app for my writing progress – it was the one area where I still relied on pen and paper. At the same time, I was running a national writing centre and I saw that plenty of other amateur novelists, screenwriters, poets and storywriters had the same challenge as me.
When you’re writing, there’s nothing like looking at a calendar and seeing the number of days you’ve written in the past month. And if it’s fewer than you’d like, it helps you set realistic goals, and keep positive about what you can achieve.
So I wondered whether tracking could help other writers improve their productivity. It would seem that many already track their progress. After some initial research amongst writers, I found that 34% use trackers in other areas of their life so many are familiar with it.
I started Write-Track to see if tracking could help writers and, having undertaken a bit more research into it, it seems like it does. Indeed, of our early-stage top users, 92% said that tracking helped them make progress towards their goals and 77% said it helped them write more.
Where we are now
Write-Track’s still at an early stage; we’re in beta and we’re inviting people to test, but it’s been designed around established behaviour change models and uses the latest thinking around habit forming products made popular by Hooked author Nir Eyal.
Write-Track enables the writer to do three things: record and monitor their writing progress; set meaningful writing goals for themselves like writing for a certain time or writing a certain number of words; and join a supportive online community of writers for support and accountability. The site is free to join and our plan is to build our brand and offer a range of paid-for in-app products which will grow the business.
Everyone has a book in them
The Office for National Statistics and the Arts Council estimates that 4% of the UK population engages in some form of creative writing, which is around 3 million people. However, a study in the US by the Jenkins Group estimates that 80% of Americans believe they have a book in them.
In reality, it’s very hard to pin down exactly how many people want to write but we believe that there are some key indicators which show that the creative writing market is booming and that traditional publishing models are being disrupted by technology.
Today, the opportunities for people to self publish their work are greater than ever. Not only has there been an explosion of e-publishing, but new platforms like Wattpad and Movellas allow users – mainly young people – to post short stories, fan fiction and poetry. Indeed, users of both sites together publish around 170,000 separate stories every day; that’s a lot of readers and a lot of writers! We think that Write-Track is ideally placed to be an essential tool in the writers’ toolbox, whatever it is they’re writing.
So, if you’ve ever thought you had a book in you but never thought you had time to write, check out Write-Track and finish what you start!