I would like something in which I can set targets - like write/edit 10,000 words a week, set a final end date for the project, set mini targets, track any lag etc.

The only PM software I've used in Ms Project, and in my limited experience, is not very easy to use. I'm specifically looking for something:

  1. Free
  2. Easy to use - one with a fast learning curve.

Ps- I know there is this question, but that talks more about software for writing your novel.

  • 1
    This would be excellent. I looked for time-tracking software a while ago with no luck, but something that would make a Gantt-like chart to help figure out when I need to do each sub-step to get the book done on time would be good to have.
    – Elizabeth
    Oct 5, 2011 at 18:26
  • I am protecting this question, as we're getting too many "This is my favourite PM software", with no reference to if it's useful for writers Aug 6, 2013 at 12:48

8 Answers 8


My old friend Scrivener has a number of those features, although it's not freeware. But seriously, $45 is not expensive.

  • When the answers are "Critique Circle" and "Scrivener" (again), what does that tell us about the question? :) Oct 5, 2011 at 19:41
  • 8
    That to two people with hammers, everything looks like a nail? :) Oct 5, 2011 at 23:59
  • 1
    Even though it's not free, I'm still selecting this answer, as Scrivener is cheap enough, and is a million times better than MS Project Jul 17, 2012 at 19:24
  • 2
    Coal on the back of a shovel is better than MS Project. Jul 17, 2012 at 20:09
  • MS Project is pretty decent for a lot of things. For writing? No, not so much, unless your version of "writing" involves coordinating the activities of 25 people to create something. Even if it worked perfectly, it's not priced for individual writers. Aug 6, 2013 at 12:25

If you create a user account at Critique Circle, you can gain access to a number of online tools they have available specifically for writers. Below are some examples and the description they provide for each.

Manuscript Progress The Manuscript Progress tool can be a great motivational tool, as you will see a visual progression of your manuscript. You simply fill in the word count as you go along, and it'll give you a progress chart. You can also add goals so you can see how far you have to go.

Word Meter Builder Put your progress on your blog on in your signature on another site. The CC progress bar is massively customizable and is absolutely gorgeous. You can link it to your Manuscript Progress tool, to your NaNoWriMo account or enter the values manually.

Monthly Progress Challenge Do you believe in peer pressure? Do you have a competitive spirit? You can use our monthly progress challenge to set regular writing goals and measure your progress against other CCers. You can choose to have this information private, or you can have your progress chart visible on your member page.

Reminders The reminders can be a useful tool to help you organize your time. You can set any reminds you want. This is useful for all sorts of things — everything from deadlines (self-imposed or real) to dental appointments and your mother's birthday!

Another option is to just create your own spreadsheet to track your individual goals. You can use the first column to make a list of your goals (word count, pages, etc.) and then use each column after that to track the quantity for each time period you want to measure, whether it is daily or weekly. At the end of each row, add a formula to give you a running total. You could even translate this into a graph to give a visual representation of your progress.

  • Steven, you luuuvvvv Critique Circle, don't you? ;) Anyway, I'll try it out Oct 5, 2011 at 15:24
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    I know I sound like a broken record, but they really do provide some good resources. I've found it to be pretty beneficial in a lot of ways, and I believe others will as well. Oct 5, 2011 at 16:20

AceProject might be the thing you are looking for. You can group your writing tasks according to group types like for example for articles whose topics are about health, then you can group them accordingly. To keep track of your tasks, you can set priorities and statuses of each task so you will know which task is which.

You can also try Zoho Projects. It's the same thing with Ace Project when handling tasks. It also allows you to set goals and milestones and keep track of deliverables and manage deadlines. You can assign tasks and priortize them using color codes.

You can check a comparison table of the various project management tools here: http://www.timedoctor.com/blog/2011/02/02/43-project-management-software-alternatives It's great if you can compare them so you can choose the software that you are looking for. By the way, MS Project would be an overkill for the type of management software that you want.


Celtx is for scripts but has a robust organizational system and ways to structure parts of a story.

Personally, I use Trello for planning, logistical matters, and to-do lists, Evernote for snippets of text, quotes, and as a repository for 'cut' paragraphs or future ideas, and write directly into Word.

For non-fiction writing, whenever I touch a source I add it into Zotero and write the quote and page number in a note attached to that item and use the Zotero Word plug-in to put that citation directly into Word as a field. If I ever have to correct publication information on the source it auto updates. This saves me from having to keep lists and lists of sources and page numbers -- instead, they're tied to the source in Zotero.


I'm using something called Clarizen http://www.clarizen.com/MediaCenter/ProductTours.aspx . It is project management software, not aimed at writers particularly, but it is flexible for almost any project. You need to be comfortable around a computer to use it, but because it is cloud based you can use it from anywhere. Clarizen allows you to set milestones and goals, and gives you a priority list every morning - which I find really helpful. You can do a product tour online and see what you think. Good luck with the book!


Microsoft's project management software has a comprehensive system which allows user-controlled scheduling. The best part of the software is that it has enhanced our organization's team collaboration by providing a baseline for tracking progress. This time reporting system can be a real benefit for you, since you're working on a tight schedule. It will help you gauge your project status and the anticipated effort needed for the project's completion.


As a fellow freelance writer I can recommend Wrike. Initially I used it to set myself daily goals – like, to write 5000 words a day or to finalize a chapter by the end of the week. This simple app basically saved me from my worst enemy – procrastination. Now, there’s no place for putting things aside today and promising myself to catch up tomorrow.

All in all, I can say that the last piece I wrote took approx. 1,5 less time to finish than the one that I wrote before adapting Wrike. It also allows editing texts online. So, I made my editor a “collaborator” and now she reviews my texts right in Wrike and I can react to her comments instantly.

The version that I’m currently using is free, but I’m actually considering an upgrade to the paid one ‘cause there are some great features in it like Gantt chart that should be just great for visualizing my work progress.

  • please clarify 1,5 less time.
    – hildred
    Nov 30, 2013 at 17:24

I've used paper, notebooks, note cards, Google, Evernote, Box, Dropbox, Scrivener, Granthika, Obsidian, and Aeon Timeline. I find Aeon Timeline meets more of my story planning and organizing requirements. It's a robust project management system with several fiction project templates. It's a relational database under the hood. I'm comfortable with databases so it's a great fit for me. If you've not worked much with databases it will require more prep (consulting the documentation and videos) to get going. I chose the Science Fiction Novel template and found it satisfies most of my data management needs. I added a couple of 'item' types and relationships to get what I wanted. I've used Scrivener for years and it meets most of my documentation management needs but it doesn't have true schedule management. Whatever you choose, you'll not get one tool or service to do everything in the ideation-to-publishing chain. So look for compatibility among tools/services. Aeon Timeline has import/export functionality with Scrivener and Ulysses. I'm considering a jump to Ulysses for writing/publishing environment, but not until I finish my current work in progress.

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