Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday's Feature -

“They” say that the best way to become a successful writer is to write as much as you can, because it’s in that volume that you will hone your craft by making mistakes and learning from them. Well I have always hated that mysterious “they,” but in this case I can actually think of several successful writers who’ve said this, so I’ll let that one be. Writing every day isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s all well and good to say you are going to write every day, but how do you maintain that discipline? How do you find the inspiration day after day?

I’ve spent the last few years struggling with that. Time and time again I’ve set the goal to write every day, or write a certain number of words a week, and fallen flat on my face. I’ve had some excellent reasons (migraines, injuries, and other things like that), but the core of the problem has truly been motivation and inspiration. It’s the real reason I failed my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, and the reason my first book has sat at 38,000 words for three years.

This year I was determined to break that routine, to complete NaNoWriMo, and to use that momentum to launch myself into finishing my original book. I still had that nagging fear that I’d fail yet again, but I was trying to ignore it.

Then I went to a kick-off party the weekend before NaNoWriMo started, and Kim (check out her blog!), one of our Regional Liason’s, mentioned a web-site called 750words. I went to check it out and this is what I found:

I've long been inspired by an idea I first learned about in  The Artist's Way  called morning pages. Morning pages are three pages of writing done every day, typically encouraged to be in "long hand", typically done in the morning, that can be about anything and everything that comes into your head. 
It's about getting it all out of your head, and is not supposed to be edited or censored in any way. The idea is that if you can get in the habit of writing three pages a day, that it will help clear your mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day. Unlike many of the other exercises in that book, I found that this one actually worked and was really really useful.
I've used the exercise as a great way to think out loud without having to worry about half-formed ideas, random tangents, private stuff, and all the other things in our heads that we often filter out before ever voicing them or writing about them. It's a daily brain dump. Over time, I've found that it's also very helpful as a tool to get thoughts going that have become stuck, or to help get to the bottom of a rotten mood.
750 Words is the online, future-ified, fun-ified translation of this exercise.

 It goes on to explain that provides you with a simple, private, place to record your thoughts. I decided to give the site a try, and I quickly fell in love. It can be a bit intimidating at first (a blank screen? Yikes!) but once I got used to it I found that it has helped provide the motivation that I need to sit down and write every day.

The layout of the site is simple. When you log in you’ll see a mostly blank page that has a few links at the top in case your not really ready to write yet, the number of days in row that you’ve written,  a simply row of boxes that will contain x’s for every day you write, and the date. At the very, very bottom is a running tally that refreshes (and saves!) frequently so you can know just how close you are to those 750 words.

Once you hit your magical 750 you see a little green box show up in the upper right hand corner congratulating you at achieving your goal! I love it because it allows me to write and not worry about looking at the total number of words obsessively (although I do that too some days). Once you’ve hit your 750 you can keep writing (there’s not limit) or you can click on your word count on the bottom to be taking to an awesome page that gives you some fun stats like how long it took you to get to your 750, how many words you wrote total, and how many WPM you wrote. There are some other stats but these are the one’s I pay attention to.

Now here’s the best part - they give you badges! (I've included a few in this post.) I know it sounds silly, but I can’t tell you how exciting it is to earn your first few badges. These little prizes, and the information on your streak of days written are really helpful, for me at least. You can also choose to receive a daily email (sent at whatever time you pick) to help remind you. I leave it in my inbox, unopened, until I write. Unopened emails drive me nuts, so that’s a really good incentive for me. They also do monthly challenges, where you pledge to write every day for a month, and give you a little “pledge box” where you get to chose your self-given reward for winning, or punishment (if you so desire) for losing.

Bottom line? I’d give 5 out of 5 coffee cups (because I love coffee, and stars are boring). It’s simple, but provides everything I need for that motivation to write every day. My longest streak so far is 37 days, and I only broke it when I got really sick this last week. I don’t always write something that’s “any good,” but I always write something, even if it’s just a mental/emotional dump, and a lot of days I’ve used it to write a portion of my novel or do a writing exercise. I love this site!

~ Ruthie ~

Ps. Do you have a favorite writing web-site?


  1. I also like, which is an online diary that you can keep locked and private. It's great for those times when you really want to make some notes or even write on your story or other WIP but for some reason don't have access to your regular files.

  2. I haven't tried 750 words. For me, I mostly don't like to be tied to being online. I find that if I am, I tend to stray to other things or once I complete my goal, I stay online and waste the whole day or evening. But it does sound like a fun site. I will probably check it out.

    Have you tried They give you one word each day and you have a blank screen where you type about that one word for one minute then you can choose to post it/share it or just exit out of the site. There are also writing groups there. I belong to a couple of them, including a NaNoWriMo one. The one I like to use most is called Post A Word A Day. It's kind of like a tag person write three to four sentences and leaves a word and the next person takes the word they left and writes three to four sentences then leaves a new word which is taken up by the next writer, etc. Kinda fun.

  3. you have any idea why I cannot comment here with my wordpress ID? I was able to the first time around but now I can only log in to comment through blogger. I prefer commenting through wordpress because it leaves a link to my blog. Any ideas?

  4. Corina - I use F11 so that I can't see anything but the site when I'm writing :) I have been to oneword - but I hadn't seen the group feature. I'll check it out :)

    Also about the comments, I changed them around. I'll try something else and see if that works better. Thanks for the feedback!

  5. I did Artist's Way a few years back with a few friends. This included the morning pages. I remember writing for 20 minutes not a certain number of pages. Sometimes there was nothing to say, but write one must! I found it to be insightful.
    I no longer do this, but it might be a good thing to do again every so often.

  6. This site sounds like a great way to get the writing juices flowing! I've heard of The Artist's Way from Deb (Storybeader) but I hate writing long hand so really haven't done anything with it. Love the little badges too!