We need to talk word trackers because I think they will help keep you on target with your projects.
Between tutoring and internship, I had the idea this weekend that all I really need to get my work done is to keep an eye on how many hours I need to spend weekly on writing. The words would just fall into place, right? Wrong. See, I tried that this morning and found myself writing only about a hundred words in the span of an hour.
Time doesn't make a story. Words make a story.
Word trackers are a great tool to have because they compare your target quota and progress and compare them to your deadline. That's key because even if you don't have a set-in-stone deadline by an outside client, you still need one if you're doing freelance work. For example, I wrote my new short story Roar Shack for Penumbra Magazine, which had an April 1st submission deadline. The editors weren't hammering at my door for my own material, but I imagined that they were. In turn, that motivated me to hurry up with the story.
Even if you don't have a market in mind - if you want to write a story and submit it to wherever - you still need a deadline to keep you on task. Think of it this way: markets pay on acceptance or publication, which means they need to get your work to make a call on it, which means you need to get that work written and in their hot little hands.
I think Svenja Liv has the best word trackers, and you can find TONS of them on her website. All the formulas are programmed into the spreadsheet so you don't need to waste hours on them.
Personally, I think her 2012 spreadsheet for NaNoWriMo was the best of the best. It's very user friendly, easy to customize, and has all kinds of extra features to help with plot and character developments. I mainly use the word tracker and progress chart to keep taps on my deadline. The novel info tab is good if you've got multiple projects and need to refresh your memory on which story you're working on, and you can adapt the chapter page into a beat sheet if you wish. I also hold onto the character list just in chase I need a quick glance at who's who.