Hi! I’m Jerri, and I’m motivated by guilt.

Sounds like the greeting at a guilt-mongers-anonymous meeting, doesn’t it?  The problem is, it’s true. I can reward myself until I’m gorged on my favorite chocolates and have 37 pairs of shoes and 28 handbags, but the truth is, it’s just not going to do it for me. I have no self-discipline when it comes to NOT indulging until I’ve reached a goal. But guilt? Well, let’s just say I was raised by a southern woman that had the article of subtle guilt down to a very fine science. 47 years later, that training is still hanging on.

So, when I found a script for Google Docs that would guilt me into working, you can imagine the happy dance that took place. The script, which was written by tech writer Jamie Todd Rubin, has been my dream guilting tool. Once you get the script set up, it tracks the number of words that you write in a specific folder each day, then at the end of the day, it sends you two emails. One is a writing summary (also called the Daily Almanac), the other is what you wrote during the day.

The script allows you to set a daily writing goal that is reflected in the writing summary that you receive each night. But as you can see from the image below, the writing summary is much more than just a daily word count. It also shows you how many days you’ve written since you installed the script, and it shows you a “streak count” for the number of days that you’ve hit that goal concurrently. For me, receiving that email every morning, especially when it says You wrote a total of 0 words in the subject line of the email…well, just say it lights a fire under my rear-end.

The Daily Writing Almanac shows you statistics for your previous day's writing.

Another nice feature of this script is that it allows you to quickly see what changes you’ve made to a specific file from day to day. In the second email that shows what you wrote during the day, you’ll either see plain text, which indicated new writing, or you’ll see text that’s highlighted in green or red, as the image below shows. Text in green is text that has NOT changed, and text in red is text that HAS changed. If you’re working on the same document consistently – like you might with a novel, short story, or longer article – then you can quickly track the changes that you made in your previous day’s writing.

The Daily Writing email details changes you made to any previous work you've edited.

My caveat to all of this is that I had to install the script twice to make it work. That’s through no fault of Jamie Todd Rubin. I’m just not a coding person, and didn’t follow the directions closely enough the first time.  Here’s my hint to you: The time zone will trip you up. If you choose to install this script, be sure to follow the instructions closely.

I needed another reason to focus my writing in Google Docs. I also needed something that would guilt me into being more consistent with my writing. Jamie’s script, which you can find in detail on his GitHub page, works on both counts. If you’re a Google Docs user (or if you want to be), I suggest you try it. It’s well worth the hour or two it will take to install it. (And a HUGE THANK YOU! to Jamie for putting it out there for other people to use!) You’ll find it does more than I’ve detailed here, and every aspect of it is useful.

Do you have any type of Google Script for Google Docs that you use to automate the functions of your writing? If you do, please share below, because I would love to add some more functionality to this amazing program!