Using Collections for Scrivener Word Counts

Posted on Fri 11 November 2016 in Tutorials • 2 min read

Tracking your Nanowrimo word count in an existing Scrivener project

I decided to write this how-to after first sharing it as a tip on Twitter, which received a lot of likes (well, a lot for me anyway!

For many, Nanowrimo is about creating greenfield projects, that is a new novel. Do Nanowrimo a couple of times though and you've probably got a supply of half-finished manuscripts lying around.

I'm no exception and this year I've decided to keep going with the rewrite of my novel, Weaver of Dreams, until it's finished.

This raises the question: How do I keep track of this month's word count in a project where I've already got more than a hundred-thousand words?

The answer for me lies in using Collections and Metadata.

I begin by creating a new Metadata field called 'Nanowrimo'.

New Metadata Field

This creates a new column in Scrivener's outline view (you may have to toggle the field's visibility to see it).

For each new scene I write during the month, I tag as Nano2016 in the Nanowrimo column.

Outline view

Then I perform a project search (constrained to metadata) for Nano2016 and save the search as a collection I've called Nano2016. This functions like a smart search in Finder or iTunes, building a list of documents dynamically when the collection is opened.

Collections menu

When I open the Nano2016 collection, all my tagged documents are there. To get the word count, I simply select them all; Scrivener will display the merged docs as a 'scrivening' in the main editor with the word count displayed in the status bar. Updates are in real time and adding a new scene is as easy as tagging it.

Word count

There's plenty of other ways you can do this, but I find this method is simple, fast and reliable.

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