Three years of 750words.com

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?

fig1_750wrds

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.

750_fig2_b

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.

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11 thoughts on “Three years of 750words.com

  1. Great post! I just started using 750words a couple weeks ago and while I’m seeing the value of it, I definitely see that daily brain dumps might not be where the value really is for me, and I’m glad to see you mention other things!

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    1. Thanks for the comment. Yes, I agree, the brain dumps may start going in circles or the morning pages may turn into “mourning” pages. Glad to hear that it has also happened to you. Now the game is to make up new categories/things to write about. Cheers

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I started using this as well a few weeks ago and it’s given me a better perspective of what I’m thinking about throughout the day, and slowly, I try to channel my thoughts in other creative ways.

    Way to go Pterodactyl !

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  3. I have been journaling in longhand format for almost a year. I did join 750 words back in 2011 but never took up (digital) writing seriously. Now, I’m committed to do this for the next 1 week and the next and the next. My target is to get it up to 66 days. Let’s see!

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  4. I also started with daily writing about whatever comes up, but I did not notice, when it became journaling, and in my entries I write about all the things you mentioned (books, thoughts, conversations, philosophical essays, poems.. thousands of others that do not drop to any category!); the name just it is not so obvious to me – what is the difference?:)
    Anyway it is a great way to write and the form – well, it is just the convention, how you want to call it:) It is my product, filtered by my views, my perception.. Let’s just keep writing:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi. Thanks for your comment. Yes, I agree, it’s all about writing, getting things out. The type of writing is sometimes difficult to categorise, but I think that my exercise helped to keep me motivated to write and I guess also helped me to see what things interest me the most. Now in July I’ve been a bit more lazy and written more about daily thoughts, less specific subjects. Maybe it’s the heat. Cheers

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  5. Thank you for sharing your 750 Words experiences! Your transition from “brain dump” or just writing whatever comes into your head (which I guess is the canonical “Artists’s Way” style of morning pages) to more focused pages some of the time mirrors mine as well. My most creative thinking comes meandering on work or blog-related topics. The nice thing is that I can have no objectives other than keeping going – and if something good comes out of my fingers, it’s a bonus.

    How do you determine what category each particular morning page session falls into? And how do you deal with days when there are multiple topics (if that happens to you)?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi. Thanks for your comment. Glad to know that what I described also happens to more people out there. Yes, I think a big part of the 750words exercise is to keep going, and then it’s amazing how nice things can sometimes just come out of those fingers. Made it to 390 days straight yesterday!

      About categories, I identify them post-hoc, as in weeks or months later, and base my decision on the content of the majority of the text. After reviewing hundreds, I was able to see that I followed something of a technique in each one, even if it often felt spontaneous. I think it also helps to have some categories that are very general, like “daily ramblings”, “writing on a specific topic (not blogged about)” and “work related” writing, and the more specific ones. I do sometimes get multiple topics, that could go into two categories, but not too often.
      Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello, Congrats! Wonder where your writing streak has progressed to now! I’m trying to turn this into a daily habit. I posted in the FB group asking for input about getting consistent. One of the things I enjoy most about the 750words.com website is the ability to use the metadata function to categorize entries. So I have categories like Quotes, Affirmations, Article Ideas, Health Research, Business Ideas, etc.

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    1. Hi Diana,
      Well, I’m still going at it, today hit day 713!
      About getting consistent, good question. I guess it depends on the person but things that I found that helped are adding it onto another habit, like writing after getting up or writing after breakfast. Some days have been quite busy thoguh, and I can forget sometimes, so having an reminder email a short time before going to sleep is also good, to keep at it.

      About metadata, I don’t use that much. I tried it once or twice but I write a lot of more quantified stuff in my (hand-written) notebooks. I do keep a list of my 750 entries in Excel, just based on my review of the words (whic his what is described in the above blog entry). Among your categories, I think my most frequent would be article ideas, things I write for this blog or other writings. Also letters and sometimes emails. One thing I like to do is write, then copy and then edit the first text, where I never erase the first draft. So I have a series of similar texts but can see how they evolve. May be cheating a bit, since the words add up more quickly that way, but I find it interesting and somewhat relaxing.
      Wish you success!

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