ranuel (ranuel) wrote,

750 Words

I've been trying out a useful writing motivation tool for the last couple of weeks called 750 Words. I waited to blog about it because I've jumped the gun in the past and thought something sounded incredible but then found that it didn't live up to its potential. Last year it was a site that let you share the book you were reading with others and everyone could comment on it. Fantastic idea but the site itself was so very badly done that just trying to use it as intended was an exercise in frustration and I ended up feeling bad about dragging my friends into trying it.

750 Words is as simple as its name. When you sign up there you get an email every day at the time of your choosing that reminds you to go write. You can opt out of the email if you want but I find that it's very motivating to have it sitting there until I do something about it.

When you sign in you are taken to a mostly blank page. At the top there are a few links, a bar showing the days that you have written this month, and the date. There are no graphics or fancy text to distract you.

At the bottom in the lower right is a running count of how much you have written and the time that the last save was done.

In between is the white space that you get to fill. The goal the site gives you is 750 words but you are encouraged to write more. The more you write the more points you get for it. Points get you cute badges which you can also earn by building up runs of daily writing. They are just silly attaboys but such things can be very psychologically motivating.

You can also pledge at the beginning of the month to write every single day. If you do this then your user name is displayed on a list of others who have taken the challenge as long as you don't skip any days. Those who make it get a badge and public recognition of a job well done.

You can write anything you want from a grocery list to deep philosophical musings. You can address more than one thing. You can do a few paragraphs ranting about something in your life and then do a draft of something that you plan to post somewhere and then end with a stream of consciousness flow just to get to the 750 word mark.

Unless you chose to share it with someone it's all private. No worry about checking the wrong thing or forgetting to check the right one and having a private blog entry post to your friends list.

Once you have typed your quota the word count becomes a clickable link that will close your entry for the day and take you to statistics about what you've written.

The software tells you how fast you typed overall, shows a graph of your speed as the session progressed, does an analysis of the emotional content and lists the most frequently used words.

So far I have only managed a 5 day streak because it has been utterly insane at work and there have been a couple of nights when I didn't do anything online when I got home except to check for urgent emails. That's okay too. You don't get rewarded for missing but the way it's set up I felt more encouraged to try again for a longer streak than feeling like I'd failed at keeping a streak going for even a week so I might as well give up now.

I'm finding the permission to just toss words onto the screen is helping me journal more effectively and identify things that I need to work out with me that are interfering with my creativity. There is a piece of writing advice along the lines of telling yourself that if what you write isn't any good then you don't have to share it with anyone frees you to do something really good and there looks to be some truth to that for me. So far I've just typed up a book review to post at FOAF and this post there but the other stuff nobody but me will every see has been surprisingly helpful.

Anyway, You can edit an entry after you exit it but only on that day. Previous day's entries are set in stone and you can't edit them at the site but that's okay because you can go back to any of your entries and download them as text files and edit to your heart's content using whatever word processor you like. You can even chose to download an entire month's worth of entries at the same time. To download click on the "This Month" link and you'll be giving the option to read or download previous entries.

Now that I've been using it for journaling and for doing drafts of a couple of non-fiction posts I'm starting to want to dip back into writing fiction again. If anyone has a prompt table bookmarked that they really like please post it in the comments. I'd also like to hear back from anyone who gives this site a try and hear how it works for you. Both how well and what you do with it that makes it helpful. I think it would be a great thing to use during NaNoWriMo to keep track of your goals.

Tags: cool stuff, writing
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