750 Words

This time last year I was working my way through The Artist’s Way and came across the idea of morning pages. I found this practice to be reasonably helpful – it gave me an opportunity to do a bit of a brain dump each morning, to mull over things I wanted to explore, and helped me to get into writing mode in a low-key way.

I did have some problems though. For one, Julia Cameron suggests you should do 3 pages. Seems simple right? But I ask you – what size of page? 3 full pages, front and back, or 3 sides? And that’s before we even get to how tiny my handwriting is.

Which leads us to the next problem – writing longhand. Ordinarily this isn’t a big deal, in fact I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I think better longhand. I found in this case that I tended to drift off mid-thought and stop writing, which rather defeated the object of what I was doing, and, coupled with the reams of paper and tiny handwriting, meant it was taking me an hour. Yep, an hour. Every day.

Then there’s stationery: because 3 pages a day means easily a notebook every month; which means you have to store the notebooks somewhere.

And then there’s the ‘morningness’ of it all. I’m not a morning person and at some point during my pregnancy, when my day worked kind of 9.30-1.30am, I simply stopped doing the pages.

Recently I tried to start the habit back up using refill pads and an A5 ringbinder. It solved the storage problem somewhat and committed me to a consistent page size. However the addition of a newborn to the household meant frequent interruptions, and leaving the notebook and pen lying about the house – not great when the 3 pages might include a private rant or an idea you aren’t ready to share.

Enter 750 Words.

Credit for introducing 750 Words to me goes to the Technician, who first told me about it a couple of years ago. I’d forgotten until I recognised the name when scrolling through a list of writing resources on tumblr and clicked on the link.

Put simply, 3 pages = 750 words. 750 Words offers you a screen blank of everything but date and word count. You log in, and you write. The aim is 750 words but you can keep going beyond that, or you could save and come back to the entry later in the day. You could leave it at that, but for people like me – a sucker for gamification – there are stats to view (wpm, time to 750 words) and badges to earn for writing streaks of particular length or skill (such as the flamingo badge for a 10-day streak). You may not need such incentives, but the badges definitely motivate me to log in every day. As an added bonus, because it’s online I can login from my phone (no app but because it’s just a blank page it looks fine in Safari) without missing a day.

Screen cap showing the daily stats page on 750words.com.
Look at all my shiny badges!

At this point I should mention that after the initial 30 day free trial there’s a subscription fee of $5/month to keep using the site, which may be a turn-off for some people. My take is this – yes, I could do the same thing in a word processor, but I know I won’t; the subscription fee is about what I’d pay for a cheap notebook each month, and is an added incentive to keep logging in.

These are early days, but I’ve completed my first monthly challenge, and I feel like I’ve instilled this as a habit. Only time will tell if it truly sticks, but I’m feeling confident – there are so many more badges to earn!

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