« Beeminder home

Beeminder Blog

Oscar Wilde looking bored

Today marks the beginning of the 17th annual NaNoWriMo. For the uninitiated that’s NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. For 17 years folks have been joining together on the internet over the month of November to pen their own 50,000 word novels.

This year they expect half a million participants.

That’s a lot of people trying to write a lot of words in the month of November. To reach the target that means that each of them needs to maintain an average of 1666 words per day.

And imagine if you were to fall behind and skip a day! That’s gonna catch up to you pretty quickly! Know what would be perfect? If you had some kind of way to make sure you spread your progress out evenly over the whole 30 days…

Okay. Is anyone surprised that we think this is a fabulous use case for Beeminder?

We’ve got several ways to beemind your writing that we’ll describe below but since 24 hours of NaNoWriMo is already gone you may want to just…


First up we’ve got our integration with Draft. Draft provides a super simple interface for just writing. And they have useful writerly tools, like Hemmingway mode, where they disable the backspace key. Though, shouldn’t that be Faulkner mode or something? I’m not sure I write more simply and directly when I have no eraser. On second thought this is probably some English Major in-joke that my dad would be disappointed at me missing. Draft’s killer feature, though, is its structured revision control. They have really great tools for collaborating, offering edits, or just keeping track of the evolution of your drafts.

However, our Draft integration may not be the best tool for NaNoWriMo, because we don’t do a straight wordcount. We actually pull in the total number of edits, so we include words added and words deleted. Which is a really great metric for keeping track of writing, but less useful for NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo’s about churning out a first draft no matter what, not about a polished end product.


URLminder has existed as a standalone tool for years but this year we finally made it part of Beeminder proper. The idea is to just let Beeminder watch a URL or set of URLs where you’re doing your writing and mind the total word count, automatically. This could be a URL from a Git repo (I’m pretty sure that using Git for version control for writing is a great idea). This could be the “shareable link” from a Google Doc — you don’t have to make it public. Or from Dropbox. Any publicly accessible URL you point us to.

Manual minding

Finally you could of course create a manual entry Beeminder goal. For NaNoWriMo, you’ll want to track the wordcount, probably, so an Odometer goal (available with an Infinibee subscription of $4/month), would make the most sense. Otherwise you’d have to enter the deltas — how many words you wrote each day. With an Odometer goal you report today’s total wordcount, which your word processor presumably tells you, every time the bot bugs you.

Go forth and invent.