Saturday, November 24, 2012

Why I write at least 750 words a day

One year ago I first came across this strange website, (thanks, Swizec!). Simple concept, simple instructions. Write 750 words. And come back again tomorrow, write at least 750 more. Rinse and repeat. 750 words. Each and every day in the past year. Now a total of 356,548 words, 367 days.

Celebrating the one year anniversary of my 750 words habit makes me look back at the year that is now coming to an end. It certainly has been an interesting one. The health part of the equation wasn't all that good for me, especially due to annoying running injuries I'm still recovering from. Yet on the other side of the equation I got some really great new work opportunities and challenges that make it easier to get out of bed in the morning. Twice a week now I even make myself jump out of bed, feed the cats, get dressed in my running gear, and finish my morning run before 8 AM, so I have the rest of the day "free". Free meaning being able to work without distractions.

On those excitingly busy days my morning ritual also involves writing at least 750 words a day. In sickness, in health. Whether I feel inspired and write really great stuff, sometimes even a thousand words at a time, or whether I feel completely empty headed and just go with the flow. Often I can't think of anything smart to say and I just write about my day. Journal mode, I call it. But even by doing that I often uncover the unexpected. When you can't stop before reaching 750 words, you have to dig deeper into yourself and often stumble upon buried treasure or skeletons.

I guess that's one of the things I like most about the 750 words challenge. When I start writing, I rarely know how the story is going to end. Sometimes the trail I follow is a straight line, but more often than not the trail takes scenic detours into strange lands. Another interesting thing is the fact that the website provides stats about the style and content of your writing. It shows your mood, your attitude towards the world. For instance, my level of Happy is above the world average, especially in recent times. I also seem less focused on the past than others, more on the present.

I seem to be having plenty of "Happy" recently!
Living in the present, recently writing about the future

Writing at least 750 words every day, just for the sake of it, has also made me a better writer. Most of what I do for a living involves writing, so that's a pretty big deal to me. But I never use my 750 words for job related writing. No, the time spent on the website is my time for practice. Writing without a specific goal in mind about anything in the world can do wonders. I no longer put off the most annoying phase of writing - the beginning. I can now sit down, start jotting down thoughts until it all starts coming together. You can always edit stuff later. The important thing is to start.

I have to admit that when I was just starting out, the badges for different achievements were a great motivational tool. Sure, I was still happy to become one of the 239 people with a Pegasus badge for 365 consecutive days of writing. But it's not really about that anymore. My now 367 days long streak of writing is a living proof of my determination, of my strength. It might not sound like much, but making time (at least 11 minutes) for writing every single day is not always easy. The key part being every single day. I wrote while being sick in bed, barely able to keep my eyes open. I wrote on insanely busy days or insanely great days when I'd rather not sit behind the computer. In the sun, in the rain, during storms, I wrote. And the result of that really can't be measured in badges. It's just priceless. badges I have earned many, but that's not really the point anymore

And while writing every day isn't for everyone, I would encourage everyone to try doing something like this for a year. Whether it's taking 10 minutes in the morning or evening for meditation. Or 10 minutes for making and drinking tea. Whatever you like. Pick one thing and try to make a new habit out of it. It will end up making you a better, stronger person, in one way or another. And even if you fail along the way, break your streak, don't give up. You can always start again.

Thank you, 750words, thank you for making me a better writer and a better person! And don't worry, this isn't a goodbye, this is just a toast. After all, there's this 500 days badge (Space Bird!) still waiting to be conquered. Now that's just 133 days away. Nothing compared to the 367 I already completed. Although, to be completely honest, it doesn't really get that much easier. Every day is still a struggle on its own, but with every day I add to the streak, it seems more foolish to just give up. Who knows, maybe I can even reach a 750 days streak of 750 words? There's no badge for that (yet), but that would still be a pretty sweet achievement.

Note: This is just an archive post. The blog has moved to a new home at, where you will also find a copy of the entire blog.