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750words.com is a simple, free site which challenges you to write 750 words (~3 pages) every day and tracks your results. The notes from happy patrons are inspiring.

All entries are private by default. Previously featured on Lifehacker.
posted by ejoey (42 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a neverending nanwrimo!
posted by dogwelder at 10:01 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just tried to sign up and got a nasty-looking "Ruby on Rails application could not be started" error page.
posted by brundlefly at 10:06 PM on March 15, 2010


Oh no, you guys killed it!
posted by ejoey at 10:12 PM on March 15, 2010


All Work And No Play Makes The Whelk A Dull Boy

(Control C, Control V, Enter, enter enter enter enter enter enter enter enter enter enter)
posted by The Whelk at 10:15 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The whole reason I haven't done this with discipline yet is because my first impulse in the morning is to get on the Internet. Much better to start a simple text editor with the wifi off.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:16 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ooh, my site's on Metafilter! That hasn't happened since allconsuming.net way back in 2004 or so. Anyway, the site's back up. I've been trying to install a secure server on it and my web host totally screwed it up and took the site down. Now, it's your turn to try to take it down! :)
posted by mockerybird at 10:24 PM on March 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


I've been using 750words for about a week, in lieu of doing handwritten morning pages every day. I used to do morning pages a few years ago, but I fell out of the habit, and when I tried to start back up again a couple of months ago I'd write for a couple of days in a row and then falter. It's surprisingly hard to write longhand for 3 pages, my hand cramps up horribly and my already illegible handwriting drifts right into serial killer territory. I've tried using MacJournal and a couple of other similar programs instead of writing longhand, but nothing has the combination of spartan yet ooohshiny design + privacy + stat infodumping that I want (or if such a program exists, my feeble Googling did not lead me to it, and I'm not the kind of smart that could whip up my own program).

I think the thing that makes it work for me, besides the privacy/spartanness/stats, is the point system and the random animal badges that show up on my userinfo page as "awards" for a particular length of writing streak (i.e., a turkey badge indicates a 3-day streak). At heart I'm still a first-grader who really, really needs a gold star dangled in front of me for motivation.
posted by palomar at 10:46 PM on March 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's a neverending nanwrimo!

Well, that was an enthusiastic couple of seconds.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:57 PM on March 15, 2010


I'm going to give it a go - I have a terrible time motivating too, and unfortunately I'm the sort of person who will do research right in the middle of a streak ("hey, is that actually how Dr. Protagonist would chop out a spleen?") and then discover four hours later that Wikipedia has eaten yet another chunk of my life.

While I doubt that this little site will stop that from happening, at least it'll be in the tab bar going HEY LADY YOU HAD A CHAPTER TO WRITE!! right next to Influence of Priest Caste in Colonial India tab, inexplicably having been found during my spleen search.
posted by Jilder at 11:08 PM on March 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is great -- it turned writing into a game which is exactly what I like about it. I also like that it analyzes your writing -- even if it's a fuzzy logic it's still fun to see what kind of mood it thinks you're in.

I like how it tracks your time and typing speed too because that forces me to just move on without trying to make the most witty use of words or agonize over phrasing or tense.

Now if there was only a site like this for coding...although it would probably think I'm in a pissy mood all the time.
posted by thorny at 11:48 PM on March 15, 2010


750 words is longer than my attentio...
posted by the aloha at 11:52 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I thought being forced to write 750 crappy words a day was why I joined Metafilter (although I'm short about 600 words).
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:43 AM on March 16, 2010


That's an amazingly well done site for such a niche problem. I hope you can sustain it.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:21 AM on March 16, 2010


Nice. I ran into a couple of minor issues. During signup (after entering my data in the form), I got the fiddlesticks error message. I refreshed a few times but kept getting it.

Also, Ctl+S does not work for me in Chrome on a PC - it opens up the standard 'Save As...' dialog, as if I wish to save the html page (and not my writing).

Not sure if this is related, but I also saw something along the lines of 'error autosaving'. Fortunately I copied my 751 words of prose into my clipboard before navigating to the stats page. For whatever reason, the app stopped saving at around 640 words. I reopened today's entry and pasted the text from my clipboard, waited a few seconds, and the app successfully autosaved.

Neat little app. Thanks for making it available.
posted by syzygy at 3:08 AM on March 16, 2010


Mockerybird, your 17 rules to live by on your personal site are awesome.
posted by jbickers at 3:27 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Half of me thinks it's a nice idea, at best useful and motivating and at worst, harmless. The other half thinks that it's yet another piece of technology, promising to liberate a wondrous and creative inner you. But that if you really were that creative, the lack of a nifty web-based app wouldn't hold you back - and if you actually had that novel inside you, you'd have already written it, using an eight year old copy of Word/ spiral notebooks/ a borrowed biro and restaurant flyers.
posted by rhymer at 3:31 AM on March 16, 2010


Funny, when it asked for my birthday and relationship status I thought "wouldn't it be great for a site like this to match people based on the sort of thing they write about?" and then grew terrified at the thought of dating my metaphysical twin.
posted by mammary16 at 3:51 AM on March 16, 2010


In a similar vein, "Onetwofiver" (made by a mefite), scaffolds you from a few words to many. Another way of priming the pump.
posted by mammary16 at 3:55 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do this already. It's called web consulting.

My daily progress is how much I want to kill myself at 5:00.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:04 AM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Half of me thinks it's a nice idea, at best useful and motivating and at worst, harmless. The other half thinks that it's yet another piece of technology, promising to liberate a wondrous and creative inner you. But that if you really were that creative, the lack of a nifty web-based app wouldn't hold you back - and if you actually had that novel inside you, you'd have already written it, using an eight year old copy of Word/ spiral notebooks/ a borrowed biro and restaurant flyers.

Yeah . . . good that this is motivating people towards a daily goal, but this is already the pace at which I write long-form fiction (well, between 500 and 3000 words a day, depending on how productive I'm being). Scratched out three novel drafts and a bunch of short stories in 2009 that way. Non-writers (or non-productive "writers"?) are often like, how?, and I'm like, you start at the beginning and you just don't stop. At which they scoff--it can't be that easy, etc. etc.

But it is that easy. Now editing, that's the hard/painful/difficult to manage stuff, and quantitative goals just don't work as well for that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:29 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wasn't that convinced about this site, until I noticed I could set my writing font to Palatino Linotype, and well, that was it.
posted by metaxa at 6:04 AM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Funny, i was thinking about getting a writing habit again. I mean i write dozens of pages per day at my job already so it's pretty hard to kick off. I was thinking of a bookk called "the artist way" which is a sort of few-weeks guide to get up and writing. ... ps. I know from experience that it takes around 3 weeks to build up a proper habit of anything (except crack i guess), having to consciously do it everyday. Then suddenly after 3 weeks you automatically do it and feel sth is missing if you don't. Maybe the site could have a built in goal for 3 weeks (first gold star?)
posted by yoHighness at 6:14 AM on March 16, 2010


Whenever I try to write, I have nothing to write about except stuff to complain about, and I'd rather not dwell, so I don't write. I guess I could make stuff up, exercise my imagination, but would it clear my mind and get "ideas" flowing? Also, what kind of ideas are we talking about? Good ones, right?

Sometimes I feel so lost in the Western world. I could write 750 words about that but that sounds like I'm complaining too.
posted by anniecat at 6:16 AM on March 16, 2010


I came across this site when it was linked on Lifehacker not so long ago. I have been using it to get my thought process going each morning as I work on my dissertation. I've found it fairly useful. I can write quite a lot when I feel like I have something to say, but it is getting to that point where I tend to struggle. I haven't produced a lot of substance with 750words, but it has helped me write to think through ideas that I'll eventually need to incorporate.

My favourite part, though, is the statistical analysis. The mood stats are obviously flawed (and the site admin says as much) but they're pretty entertaining. Apparently I'm very, very upset about my dissertation. Hm. Maybe they're not so flawed.
posted by synecdoche at 6:45 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sign in via Google, Facebook, or Yahoo. Okay, I guess. But why is that needed? And Google is stupid, and reads my IP and makes assumptions about my language preference, instead of being intelligent, and knowing (it is GOOGLE, after all!) that I use English by preference. But now Google knows I might do something like this? Why should anyone know that, apart from anyone wasting the effort to track me via my ISP or mail server?

So, this morning writing, just any ol' thing out of my head, in the morning, eh? That might be, um, 'entertaining', in a sense. After the second cup of coffee, my mind tends to wander a certain direction. Well, maybe 'wander' is the wrong term. Perhaps "sprint" would be better. That can be a hard direction to ignore!
posted by Goofyy at 6:57 AM on March 16, 2010


if you actually had that novel inside you, you'd have already written it

This is unmitigated bullshit. Not every thing worth accomplishing needs to have been done by the time you're 25 or 30. There's plenty of scope for doing great things later in life, and for those of us who weren't early prodigies, this kind of thinking is just another anchor around our necks that we don't need. If you're ready to consign yourself to a Logan's Run-esque early grave, be my guest, but don't pretend you speak for everyone.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:10 AM on March 16, 2010 [14 favorites]


Whenever I try to write, I have nothing to write about except stuff to complain about, and I'd rather not dwell, so I don't write.

That's actually the point of this brain-dump kind of thing, anniecat -- you get all the stupid crap lurking in the back of your brain OUT of your brain, so it's free to focus on other things and you actually get somewhere for a change. Sometimes even just a little blurt of nothing down on paper gets an obstacle out of your system so you can get to work.

> if you actually had that novel inside you, you'd have already written it

This is unmitigated bullshit. Not every thing worth accomplishing needs to have been done by the time you're 25 or 30. There's plenty of scope for doing great things later in life, and for those of us who weren't early prodigies, this kind of thinking is just another anchor around our necks that we don't need.


I can and can't see the point of "if that novel was inside you, you'd have done it already" kind of talk -- the upshot is, it's not the fancy tools that make the writer, it's the talent and dedication. Which is true. But -- sometimes people need a boost to break through old bad habits so they can FIND their dedication and talent.

This particular will not directly lead someone to write a novel - but this isn't meant to be a "just 750 words a day and YOU TOO can be published!" kind of thing, and that's what I think the critique is. However -- getting yourself into the habit of writing 750 words a day will get you into the habit of WRITING REGULARLY in GENERAL, and that WILL go a long way towards getting that novel out of you. It won't take you all the way there, but it will be a boost towards that path. And some people do need something to break them out of bad habits and get that boost. (For me, it was NaNoWriMo. For others, it'll be this.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:33 AM on March 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


I just did my first 750 words (777, to be precise) and it actually felt pretty good. Going just by blogs and discussion sites like mefi, I've probably dumped the equivalent of a couple dozen David Foster Wallace-sized novels into the Internet over the last fifteen years. It's kinda nice to have a website that's devoted entirely to giving me a metric for my personal writing, i.e. how much I produce and how long it takes me to do it. If the 750 Words developer came up with an app or browser extension that tracked my writing stats browser-wide (or even system-wide) it might be a great motivational tool to write, write, write every day.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:04 AM on March 16, 2010


if you actually had that novel inside you, you'd have already written it, using an eight year old copy of Word/ spiral notebooks/ a borrowed biro and restaurant flyers.

Yeah, I'll pile on this comment--it ignores that all great art takes tons of talent and inspiration, yes, but it mostly takes a whole lot of hard work. Beethoven left behind somewhere close to 100 sketches (different versions) of those famous opening bars of his 5th symphony. You might think "how hard can it be to come up with du-du-du-duuuuuh," but when you want that motive to sound exactly right, to have just the perfect sense of potential energy and emotional color, and also to be fecund enough to generate 8 minutes of musical development, it's actually really, really hard. Which is why it took him almost 100 versions for just that motive.

More often, I find the opposite of the sentiment expressed above: I think talent and inspiration are actually fairly common, that almost all of us are artists and creatively expressive by nature (just watch kids!), but that very few learn the skills, focus, and discipline to realize their expressive potential.

I like the idea of this site a lot, will be using it in the next few weeks to help me finish a large writing project (for which I have loads of inspiration and ideas, and very very little discipline by which to export them).
posted by LooseFilter at 9:19 AM on March 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


If the 750 Words developer came up with an app or browser extension that tracked my writing stats browser-wide (or even system-wide) it might be a great motivational tool to write, write, write every day.

I would love this, especially if it had an option to save long things I write on sites like Metafilter and port it over to my work saved on the site.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:21 AM on March 16, 2010


Thank you for this. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep, saw this post, went and did my 750. I didn't get back to sleep but my brain felt much better afterward.
posted by HotToddy at 9:46 AM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]



Sometimes I feel so lost in the Western world. I could write 750 words about that but that sounds like I'm complaining too.

Ha! Welcome to contemporary literature! But in all seriousness, these feelings have value, and where the art comes in is in presenting it in such a way that it does not come off as too plaintive to either yourself and your audience. Look at any succesful writer of the past hundred years, and even in more classical times; anyone worth their salt is going to have a lot of criticism, even bitterness, that could be uncharitably described as 'complaining'. But if it can be written compellingly enough, suddenly we call it satire. Romantic poetry, or at least its popular image, has done us a great disservice if we are left thinking everything worth writing must be buttercups and rainbows. If this is how you feel, I say run with it.
posted by kaspen at 9:52 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm glad to hear so many of you like the site as much as I do. If anyone is up for a mefi challenge, send me a mail and let's organize it.
posted by ejoey at 10:10 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


if you actually had that novel inside you, you'd have already written it, using an eight year old copy of Word/ spiral notebooks/ a borrowed biro and restaurant flyers.

Yeah, I'll pile on this comment--it ignores that all great art takes tons of talent and inspiration, yes, but it mostly takes a whole lot of hard work.


To all those who piled on, this was actually kind of what I meant. If you want to write something, start doing the hard work. I remember reading an interview with Anthony Bourdain, where he talked about writing while on his lap on the toilet during breaks. That is what is what I was getting at.
posted by rhymer at 10:34 AM on March 16, 2010


To all those who piled on, this was actually kind of what I meant. If you want to write something, start doing the hard work. I remember reading an interview with Anthony Bourdain, where he talked about writing while on his lap on the toilet during breaks. That is what is what I was getting at.

No, I got you.

To clarify my objection (not sure whether I'm part of the pile-on) I just see this as a trick to get you TO get yourself going on doing the hard work. Some of us sometimes have to fight through a shitload of self-doubt and bad habits we picked up over the years. There are people who have been so hobbled by self-doubt that hearing that "shit, Anthony Bourdain wrote on the toilet" sounds like a lecture about "therefore, because you DON'T write on the toilet, you have no work ethic, so just give up now."

I know that that's not what you meant, though. But this site isn't promising to be an easy cure-all, either. Nor is NaNoWriMo, or any of the other scores of writing books or idea prompt sites or anything like that. They are all just ways in, just ways to help aspiring writers get PAST that self-doubt and around those bad habits.

In short -- we know that Anthony Bourdain writes on the toilet NOW. We don't know what he may have had to do to get him going BEFORE he started writing, or whether whatever trick he used may have caused someone to sneer "shit, Mark Twain wrote in bed, why aren't you doing that?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


My experience was similar to PhoBWanKenobi's. I wrote a couple novels in 2009, short stories, etc. Doubt that I'll ever publish them, but I feel good.

Except I'd never done it before. I'd never finished a story except for things forced upon me by school.

Here's what changed things for me: I fixed it so I stopped looking back.

That is, I made a document to contain most of my draft. Then I made a separate document to contain what I was working on Right Now. I only looked at the big one if I had to check a detail, (how tall was someone, what'd someone say two chapters ago, etc.). When I finished a scene, I tossed it in the main draft and had a blank slate again. This prevented the endless second guessing that I feel kills most fiction before it can reach that space where you're so driven you're writing on the toilet. I hit that point, and it's great.

Just wanted to throw that out there for anybody who's been struggling. The 'write every day' thing is critical too, but that advice seems like fairly common knowledge.
posted by mordax at 11:07 AM on March 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


Not every thing worth accomplishing needs to have been done by the time you're 25 or 30.

.

The tool's not for me, but it's still cool. I'm with l33tpolicywonk. I need a blank screen and no Internet.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:33 PM on March 16, 2010


Not every thing worth accomplishing needs to have been done by the time you're 25 or 30.

Also, writers tend to peak late.
posted by yoHighness at 3:08 PM on March 16, 2010


I need a blank screen and no Internet.

That's when we'll know that technology has come of age. When Steve Jobs is selling us that as the new device's USP. The Alone - no i at all.
posted by Elmore at 5:49 PM on March 16, 2010


Here's what changed things for me: I fixed it so I stopped looking back.

The realization that, in order to finish something substantial, I'd have to work on it every day and keep working was amazing to me. I still have more story beginnings than stories, but it's nice to know that to finish them, all one has to do is keep going. This lesson shouldn't have been as hard for me as it was.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:56 PM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is a really groovy idea. I've just signed up and done my first 750. I'm looking forward to this as an exciting challenge.
posted by dejah420 at 9:43 PM on March 16, 2010


This is good stuff. I'm a nanowrimo writer and also right now in the middle of Script Frenzy.

Talent is overrated. It's the daily grind, putting the sh*t down that makes the difference. Talent is the sharpness of the sword, but creating anything worthwhile is a decades-long battle against yourself, your expectations and the outside forces of the world. A good blade is nice but if you don't have the determination to keep on swinging it...

One book I found helpful is: The War of Art.
posted by storybored at 10:24 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


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