Writers need many important skills. It’s not so much the quality of the writing, whether it’s ‘good’ or not – well, it’s actually a big factor, but never forget that anyone can write. A five year old child can write a story. When you begin to take writing seriously though, like aiming for the completed novel, it’s consistency that matters most. “Write hard, write fast,” James Scott Bell says in his guide The Art of War for Writers. In other words: just write and keep writing. Push yourself to write every day; make it a habit.
… It could just be me but I find that ridiculously hard.
I have many excuses: I have no time! I have uni, I have assignments, I have social life, I need to sleep, etc. They bog me down like swamp men. Some days it is impossible to get any writing done. But there are also days where I have just a few hours of beloved free time and, and… and I lose it to YouTube, to forums, to music, to that nap I didn’t really need. Deep down, I wanted to write, so badly, but I didn’t have consistency.
Buster knows this. Who’s Buster? Good question! He’s the developer of…
What is it?
The idea behind 750 Words is simple: you aim to write 750 words every day. You can achieve badges by writing several days in a row and maintaining a streak, or by typing fast and staying on task. The longer you manage to keep a streak, the more points you accumulate. What do you do with these points? You feel accomplished, you brag, you compete with friends. The whole aim is simply to write 750 words of anything at all.
750 Words provides a simple, blank canvas for you to type. It keeps track of your words, autosaves, and lets you know when you hit that 750 mark. Your writing is available in your own archives, and you can also view some nifty stats about what you just wrote. There are basic numbers like how long you were writing for, how quickly, how many times you got distracted and left the keyboard idling – and then there are the cool stats. Here’s a quick list:
- Rating (G, PG, R, etc)
- What you (or the writing) feel like
- What you (or the writing) are concerned about
- Your mindset when writing this – e.g. extrovert, negative
- The proportion of tense: past, present future
- Primary sense – e.g. touch, smell, hearing
- Proportions of ‘us’ and ‘them’ – i.e. perspective
- Frequently used words
I found these stats amazingly interesting! Of course, they are not always accurate; in fact, they never were for me because I was wrote my novel’s scenes and I wasn’t feeling quite as violent as my characters were. But they are nice to look at and to reflect on; I didn’t realise I wrote so much about sight – my characters are always gazing, glancing, averting their eyes – until 750 Words spelled it out for me. Best of all, you get pretty badges for doing what you love: writing!
Note: 750 Words was free for a long time and sponsored by donations from the community. From what I understand, some recent changes were made and new accounts will have a 1 month trial period before they decide if they would like to purchase the service. So there’s plenty of time to decide!
How is this useful?
It encourages you to write every day. Some people are motivated by maintaining their streak. Some don’t care much about streaks and prefer to work at their own pace, meeting the mark whenever they can. You can even sign up for monthly challenges and aim for 750 words every day for a month. There are no punishments aside from those you give yourself.
Just like The Thoughts Room, you can write about anything you like. Writing about your day or anything that’s on your mind can clear the clutter and get you into the right mood for story-crafting. Make it a journal if you like. It’s always great to look back and see what you’ve achieved.
Now, you probably noticed that I broke my streak pretty early… I’m the type that works like hell for the streak and deflates the instant I lose it. For a long time after that I wrote without 750 words, but the site helped me taste consistency for the first time. I didn’t have to write the actual scenes of my novel (that took too much thinking); I could write a random short story using my characters, I could reflect on my writing, I could write a character voice journal (one of James Scott Bell’s tips in his book). I now hop on whenever is convenient, and aim for the mark. I don’t make it some days and I’m not as consistent as I’d like, but I’d gladly take it over nothing.
So go for it! See if consistency is what you’re lacking in your recipe, and even if 750 Words isn’t for you, try to take the lesson away with you. If you’ve already got a routine all figured out, kudos to you!
Tips for using 750 Words
- Hit F11 (on Windows)/whatever the fullscreen key is on Macs, to eliminate distracting tabs in your browser. Switch off social media if you can. Don’t get distracted!
- Just let the words flow. Don’t worry about editing. Think of it as your first draft; get it down first.
- Keep your keyboard going even if you’re thinking, even if you’re just typing the same word and backspacing it. Keep the cogs in your mind turning.
- Feel free to keep writing past 750 Words. First give yourself a pat on the back, then see if you can keep going.
- Check out the stats afterwards. It’s fun.
feature image from bigamericannight