Last year around this time, I wrote a blog about using 750words.com. Since then, I’ve continued to write, almost every day. That makes me a Pterodactyl (for writing more than 200 days straight). Looking at the badge stats, only about 50% of those who sign up make it past day 1 (Figure 1), and only about 0.5% keep it up for 200 days in a row. Last year I never thought I would get this far. So how is that possible and what are we all writing about?
From morning pages to diverse entries
I first started using 750words.com back in April 2013, but it didn’t last very long. I followed instructions and wrote “morning pages”, just writing whatever came into my head. Sometimes it was about a specific topic or problem or, when no ideas arrived, I’d end up describing physical objects around the room. I found it quite hard to consistently write in that way. I would write one day, skip weeks or months, write another three days straight, and stop again. Looking back now, and reading a few old entries, maybe it was too easy to focus on problems or negative events without some kind of structure, or it just wasn’t interesting enough to keep writing.
At the beginning of 2015, I made a resolution to try and write every day. I found that I ended up varying the type of entries and moving away from daily ramblings. I wasn’t really aware of the change at the time, but I ended up making it more diverse. Now the daily outpourings only represent about 25% of all entries.
As I mentioned a year ago, I’ve been keeping an Excel file of all my 750 word spiels over the past three years (date and main topic). So I went through and categorized each entry (daily rambling, review of a book or article, thoughts about my notebook, writing on specific topic (not blogged about), the narrative camera, my blog, a letter to someone, a summary of a conversation, and work related writing). As you can see in Figure 2, the diversity of entries increases as time progresses.
The environment around the habit
Apart from producing more writing, and ending up with more blog posts, I found that the whole habit of waking up and writing has helped to develop other habits. For example, writing 750 words may not be the main reason I get up early, but I know that if I stay in bed, I’ll have less time to write, and then will have to adjust my schedule to write at some other time. Ergo, I get up. Before and after writing I also have a series of other activities that have turned into habits (e.g., shaving, making sure electronic gadgets are charged for the day, physical exercise), but I think that the creative part, the writing, is the focal point of all the other ones. All this reminds me of the philosophy behind BJ Fogg’s habit making course (see http://www.bjfogg.com/), the easiest way to make a habit is to add it to an existing one.
Once that is set, you don’t need a whole lot of motivation. The 750words.com page can send you nice reminder emails and you can join the monthly challenge, but I found that after about 5 months, I didn’t really need them anymore. Maybe they were important at the beginning but they don’t seem necessary now (and I was running out of ideas of prizes to give myself if I made it through a whole month!).
So overall it’s been great, and I want to thank Buster and his wife Kellianne again for all their work in setting up and maintaining the site. It’s a great place to write and it’s done a lot for me.