Before I had my daughter, I wrote most days. I had inspiration or I didn’t, and sometimes that dictated whether or not I wrote. When I was pregnant, I wasn’t active enough but I still practiced yoga on my own every day. When she was born, everything changed. I had a book to promote (technically the book was 11 days older), I lacked sleep, and I slowly adjusted to life with a newborn. (March 2009) My days of writing for long periods disappeared nearly overnight.
May of 2011 I joined the site 750words.com. I had read about morning pages from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and I felt I needed something to tell me that I should go write something. Even if it was junk or just stream of consciousness or something that didn’t make sense. The point was to write every day*. I thought that was important to being a real writer.
The cool thing about 750 words was that they sent me an email about whether I’d done my words or not, and they allow me to choose the time. It was an adjustment. I was also pregnant again by the time I joined, and teaching yoga, and my daughter had grown into an active toddler. I wrote during naptime, mostly.
So it’s been a little over six years since I joined. Both my children are in school full-time (Kindergarten and 3rd grade), and it’s been a big change. It might not surprise you that the first year was hardest. I would fight that streak up and then miss a day. I was so upset one day in 2012 when I had written for over a year (384 days) even through moving twice and having a baby, but some random day in July was when I forgot.
Today marks 1672 days in a row, writing at least 750 words a day. Why do I write all the time, even when writers will tell you they take vacations? Partly it’s therapy. Writing out the junk in a place where I don’t have to look at it again (if I don’t want to) has allowed me to take pressure off. It’s writing as therapy, and it works for me. Sometimes I feel bad that it’s been stream of consciousness of whatever I’ve been thinking for days, but I learn to accept that and move on.
The interesting bits that 750words keeps track of so I don’t have to:
I’ve written over 2.4 million words since May 2011.
I’ve written 2290 days out of 2347.
My quickest entry was 7 minutes (to get to 750 words) – I don’t remember much about that day except I was truly mad about something.
My largest word count was 15,596 words. I remember I was trying to outwrite my friend Michelle that day, and I’m still writing off some of the brainstorming that happened from that.
Each of these milestones changes me as a writer. I feel like I can learn what works for me and what doesn’t, and also the yoga part will tell me to simply accept when I’m not writing fiction. These “throwaway” pages are also wonderful for planning out a plot or describing something that has to get into my pages.
What else 750words shows me is whether I’ve been distracted, how many words i type per minute, and a whole bunch of stats that I sometimes ignore. Yesterday the weather was 62 degrees where I was, and partly sunny (and it is recorded forever on the stats page). My words are rated G which pretty much means safe for all audiences. It thinks I was affectionate and that I was thinking about religion.
The sense most used was touch and I wrote in first person and the future tense. I have a feeling that the ‘affectionate’ and ‘touch’ sense both reflect that i wrote that I felt something. I could be mistaken. Sometimes these give insight into my character that I wouldn’t have connected, but not always.
My mindset listed on the page is Introvert, Positive, Certain, Thinking. And all of those are given little visuals so you can check what 750 words is rating. At the bottom of the page, there are many frequently used words from that day.
There’s also a search function. So I use # and a subject. It’s not the most efficient, but it does help me find what I wrote and follow that through to the pieces I need to save. It’s all downloadable and it’s sortable, but it can be difficult to find a common word through as many days as I now have.
I also configured sharing my progress, which shares not my words but all the stats that I listed here.
Thanks, Chris Cornell, for asking and reminding me that I hadn’t shared these things in a while!