This morning I completed 97 consecutive days of writing at least 750 words on the writers’ website 750word.com. This is a website designed to help writers kick start their writing. It is based on an idea from The Artist’s Waythat suggests that writers should create three pages of writing every day, typically in the morning. These so-called Morning Pages can be about anything and everything of interest to the writer. They should be unedited and uncensored just words on the page. The idea is that by starting the day this way you can get the writing “juices” flowing and be a more productive writer. 750word.com can help you do just that.
The main part of site itself is a blank screen with small boxes at the top of the page representing all of the days in the month and a word counter at the bottom of the page. As you write your words are automatically counted and autosaved to the site. The site awards you points as you go along. You get one point for writing anything in a day and a “/” in the box at the top of the screen representing the day’s date (like a spare in bowling) When you reach the magic number of 750 words (about 3 pages of text) you get a congratulations message and an “x” in the box for the day (like a strike in bowling) and more points. You don’t have to stop at 750 words but can continue for as long as you like. I’ve written as much as 1781 words at a time. I find between 750 and 1000 words gives me one good scene and that’s generally my goal for the day. If I don’t get too distracted I can finish in about an hour. However, if I don’t have a full hour, I can come back to the site later in the day and finish. As long as I write 750 words between midnight and midnight I get my “x” for the day.
As you complete more and more days the site awards you more points and when you complete a certain number of consecutive days you get small badges. Signing up gets you an egg, after three days you get a rooster, five days gets you a penguin and so on. I’m bucking for the 100 day phoenix. There are also badges for fast finishers (the cheetah), no distractions days (the hamster), early morning and nighttime writers get an Early Rooster and Night Bat respectively. If you miss a day, you can simply start again the next day.
There’s also a badge and a link to the yearly competition called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal of NaNoWriMo, “thirty days and nights of literary abandon”, is to draft a novel in one month, generally November. If you meet the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 within any one month the 750words site awards you the NaNo badge. There’s also a monthly writing contest where you can challenge yourself to write every day for a month. If you meet your challenge your name goes on the Wall of Fame, if you fail it’s the Wall of Shame for you. I got the badge at the top of this page for taking the challenge and writing at least 750 words every day in July. Every month about a quarter of those who sign up for the challenge complete it. In addition to the Wall of Fame or Shame you can set your own reward/punishment for the month.
Since many people use this site as a type of journal there are algorithms that tell you more about your writing for the day including a chart of your starts and stops, a rating of your writing based on the common movie rating system (G, PG, etc.), the feeling and concerns expressed, your mindset, time orientation, and primary sense, your us/them orientation, and most frequently used words. You can configure the site to share some or all of this metadata or to keep everything completely private. It also offers other services including a search function to find something you wrote in the past and an export feature so your words aren’t held hostage to site (although I just do a copy past of my writing into MS-Word after each writing session), the ability to customize the look of your page, and others.
Just writing every day I’ve logged 14,000 words this month and 85,000 total. Some of this is so hackneyed it must never see the light of day but I am copying off other portions to serve as the first draft of my novel. You can use the site for any kind of writing. It can be work toward a novel or other type of long- or short-form writing, a draft for your blog, your daily journal, or simply “morning pages.”
There are several other sites that also provide reinforcement for writing including Written? Kitten! and Written? Puppy! which give you a cute kitten or puppy picture after a set number of words, Write or Die which punishes you for procrastination and distractions and Penzu a private journal and online diary site and companion applications.
I like 750words, however. It is a pretty simple idea but anything that helps me work toward the goal of a first draft of a novel is a good thing. The checkoffs and badges make it fun and as I’ve logged more and more days I’ve become more and more reluctant to “break the chain.” If you want to write more but are having a problem finding the time or motivation, I would encourage you to check out 750words.