A prescription for the flustered writer who strives for “little animal icons”: 750words.com

By November 14, 2011Peer Writing Tutoring

Does anyone use 750words.com?

I came across an article in the Writing Lab Newsletter this week that explains and discusses the “web-based application.” Jackie Grutsch McKinney from Ball State University claims, “[750words.com] has made a daily writer out of me when nothing else has.” “Geek in the Center” explains the site’s utility and includes an interview with its founder, Buster Benson.

I am one of those writers who often needs some sort of ‘push’ in order to write consistently. Writing-intensive classes certainly help, and so does ucwbling, but lately, my creative writing projects have taken a back seat. That’s why I recently set up an account and will attempt to make 750words.com part of my daily winter-break routine.

Think of a cross between your private journal and your first-grade teacher. Your journal rewards you with gold stars whenever you write something, and provides some encouraging words whenever you struggle. This is the best way I can summarize 750words.com before getting into the nitty-gritty.

As McKinney explains, the site is intuitive and user-friendly. The interface is set up as a calendar that motivates you to write 750 words of text each day. When you fill the text box with your word quota, that day is marked with an X.

It is important to understand that 750words.com is not a blogging or social-networking site. The goal is not to write something interesting or funny for other people to read or comment on. Everything you write is private, and you can go back and look at previous entries if you so desire. The site functions as a simple motivational program to get you in the habit of writing each day. Therefore the quality of what you write doesn’t matter; you just have to write something that fills or surpasses the 750-word minimum to win your daily X.

You receive “badges” when you maintain the daily 750-word routine for significant periods of time. McKinney describes the badges as “little animal icons”; Perhaps in the future I will garner a studious-looking raccoon or armadillo. I will certainly delete my account if I go forty days without “breaking the chain” only to receive a donkey icon.

As Benson explains, 750words is essentially a biproduct of his own struggles as a writer.

“…a lot of the gunk in my head was remaining stuck, and clogging things up, and it wasn’t until I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way a few years ago that I realized that because I was always aware of my “audience,” I never really got a chance to think out the truly sticky things in my head.”

Benson took up Cameron’s “morning pages” routine and experienced significant results in the focus of his work.

“…daily writing, in a private space…helps me untangle complicated fears, unfinished ideas, and unborn revelations. Writing is simply a method of therapy,” Benson said.

With a sliver of confidence from Benson’s testimony, I am now on day two of my 750words routine. Though I can’t be sure how long my brain will be able to handle this habit before it runs dry or explodes, I am confident that the tool will at least help me avoid my annual winter-break writing slump. Yesterday I wrote over 800 words, talking myself through several specific revisions for a screenplay I’m working on. If I hadn’t worked out my thoughts on paper and produced a semi-coherent to-do list of changes for the script, I would likely be making revisions that are rushed and short-sighted.

So if 750words.com sounds like it might help you in any way, I encourage you to give it a shot. It takes less than five minutes to get started, especially if you link your account with your facebook or twitter profile. Even if this site sounds ridiculous, you might benefit from devising your own personal daily writing challenge.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Joe O. says:

    I sure do hope the Lemur catta (ring-tailed lemur) is represented in the slew of little animal icon-prizes 750words.com offers.