Tuesday, 4 September 2012

750 Words, and Other Such Things

After reading a blog post which raved about it, I decided to give 750 words a go. The premise of this website, in a nutshell, is that you sign up and write 750 words a day. It’s all very straightforward, really. It’s supposed to get you into the habit of writing every day, and to stave off writers’ block.

The site has a few useful (or perhaps ‘interesting’ may be a better word) features. Firstly, it times how long it takes you to write your words, and calculates your average speed. In terms of motivation to churn out words quickly (something that one always needs more of during Nano), this is definitely a plus. It also leads to mindless, punctuation-less, sometimes even word-less drabble. But maybe that’s just me. I have never been good at producing coherent work under time constraints, as anybody who has ever read my Nanowrimo works can attest. But generally, the ticking timer is nice motivational tool.

The second – and far more entertaining feature – is that for every entry you write, the site attempts to analyse your mood and compare it to the world average. I’m not sure exactly how this works, but it does fascinate me to know I am more upset that average, but less sad. My favourite part of writing on this site is when I finish and I get to see colourful little pie-graphs and charts of how I’m feeling. (Strangely, the seven options for emotions are affectionate, upset, self-expressive, self-important, happy, anxious and sad. I’m not sure how they chose these.) It’s also interesting – on the few occasions I’ve used the site for actual creative writing as opposed to brain-dumps – to see whether the mysterious bots picked up on the emotions I was trying to include.

Also, there are badges. As a general failure at consistent daily writing, my only badge is the turkey, which comes for writing three days in a row. It goes all the way up to the space bird – a weird kind of eagle in a helmet – which you get for writing 500 days in a row. Surprisingly, the site tells me 113 people have achieved this goal. Good on them. But yes, cute badges are definitely a good addition to the site. However, they aren’t enough to motivate me, because I can look at the cute pictures without actually earning the badges, and it isn’t really the kind of site where other people visit your profile and say, “My, what a lovely flamingo that is! You must have written 10 days in a row!”

Sadly, despite its perks, 750 words is rapidly losing its appeal. I’m quite happy to write 1667 words a day when it comes to Nanowrimo, and when I have something to work on, but at the moment I’m mostly editing and planning rather than just writing, so I don't have much reason to write 750 words a day. When I started, I was writing random rants of whatever popped into my head, but it quickly transpired that my head was very monotonous, and one post started to look a lot like the other. So alas, this site is not really for me right now. (And now I wonder why I wrote a whole blog post to tell you this.) Nonetheless, I definitely think it has the potential to be revived come the madness of November. 

While I’m on the topic of such sites, however, I do have a couple of others to mention:

Doctor Wicked’s Write Or Die – with the option for your words to start disappearing if you pause too long in your writing, you can’t really go past it for forcing you to continue.

Written? Kitten! – you set a goal, and every time you reach it, your screen flashes up a cute picture of a kitten. I find that negative enforcement works better than positive, but for those of you who are into cats…

I have also heard of One Page Per Day and My Tomatoes, although I haven’t tried either of them. Has anyone else? What are your thoughts on these types of ‘motivational’ writing sites?  


  1. I've never tried any of those sites, and never done NaNoWriMo. And the reason is one you pointed out: a lot of time, I'm focusing on revising and editing, and those sites and NaNo don't have a good way to encourage that yet.

    But every now and then, when I'm drafting something new, I set a daily page goal for myself (I write first drafts with pen and paper), and that seems to work well for me so far.

    1. I don't think I could get a first draft done without Nanowrimo. I admire your lack of reliance on such things. =)