I first heard about the power of writing 750 words a day while attending the University of Iowa’s MOOC last fall. A forum post popped up asking who else used the site and I didn’t think anything about it. I write as much as I can when I can. I’m spastic enough as it is, I don’t need to add another burden to the obligation pile. I kept watching that post, though. Another member posted. And another. Before long, I was scrolling through pages of people who all swear by this method of writing 750 words a day. I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about.
It all began with a book called The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. In it, she encourages you to write three pages each morning to get the creative juices flowing. One reader believed in the advice so much, he created a website for everyone else to come join the fun. Almost 250k writers have signed up. Called 750words.com, the website provides a brief explanation of the 750-words-a-day process. It also gives you a virtual space to write your daily 750 words, track how many days you write in a row, gives detailed reports about your best writing times, moods, subjects, and distractions, all while promising privacy. The site does charge a five dollar fee after a thirty-day trial period, but it’s worth it.
I tried the site out for a few days before switching to a long-hand notebook for my 750 words. There’s nothing wrong with the site, I just really enjoy writing by hand. I’ve talked before about how science continually finds connections between our brain’s creative process and the act of putting pen to paper. Speaking from experience, I can feel the difference when I type on the computer and when I write long hand. So I bought a fresh new notebook, labeled it 750 words and went to work.
Now that I’ve done this for a few weeks, I don’t think I’ll ever stop. I have more thoughts than ever before and they seem to flow better. It took a while to get into the groove. At first, I used all three pages (it’s generally accepted each page is about 250 words. This varies when I write long hand, but for the most part it comes out close.) to write about random things that were going on in my life. In other words, I had a spiral-bound journal I called 750 words.
After about a week, though, things got better. Now I dedicate the first page to my random life thoughts. I’m angry about this thing, I want to do that thing, or I better not forget I have to do this.
By the time I hit page two, I’ve banned everyday conversation from my pages. When I turn that first page, I leave behind reality and I begin to think about possibilities. Each day I pick a different subject. Today’s subject, for example, was rocks or stones. So I brainstormed about rocks. For two pages. I wrote about how some people think different stones hold different properties. What if you lived in a world where people worshiped stones instead of God? What would that world look like? What would they do with the stones? Maybe they’d strap them to their bodies. Create Statues everywhere. Poetry about stones. Words about stones would dominate our vocabulary. Would people dress stones? Adorn them with jewelry? Build shrines to them? Lose faith when the rocks don’t perform any miracles? Was there more to rune stones than we first thought? What if . . .
Sometimes I answer the questions, sometimes I don’t. From bizarre carrot-wielding villagers who want to protect their silence stone to harmless princesses who believe the stones speak to them, I write anything and everything I can think of for each subject. Whether it makes sense or not. Sometimes everything that comes out is crap. Well, maybe not crap, but I end up with pages of ideas I’ll never follow up on.
I also come out with some winners. Since the beginning of January, I’ve uncovered at least seven potential story ideas! All I have to do is flesh them out, edit, and publish them.
I’m definitely hooked.