I accepted a challenge to write 750 words every day in August on a website called 750words.com.
The reasoning behind the 750 words is a method called Morning Pages from a book called The Artist’s Way. The idea is to dump everything that’s in your brain first thing in the morning onto paper, as a creative release. It’s supposed to clear your mind and let your creativity flourish.
It’s similar to the daily practice described in ‘Writing Down the Bones’ by Natalie Goldberg. Her method is also to write every day (8 minutes as opposed to 3 pages), and also to just release whatever’s in your mind, but it’s more of a writing exercise. It’s meant to train yourself to let go, let the editor, the censor go — to get in touch with your the first layer of your consciousness, the one that gets regulated and filtered in order to fit in to what’s right and appropriate. Similar, but not the same.
I made it until day 27. Strangely, I don’t feel so bad about not making it to the end, which is surprising to me. I’m usually pretty insistent on ‘winning’. I’m an ends rather than a means kind of person.
When I accepted the challenge I decided that I would do it every morning at 8am, or basically, first thing in the morning. And that’s the only reason I lasted as long as I did. It’s also why I enjoyed the process. I enjoyed the routine of it. It gave some semblance of order to my day, and by some semblance, I mean it was never at 8, and rarely first thing in the morning. Sometimes I’d get distracted by email, or I’d have to answer an early phone call or go to an appointment, sometimes I’d choose to make breakfast. But over all, there was something – the same thing – that was supposed to happen every day. It’s made me want to figure out how else to introduce rituals and routines to my day, in a way that doesn’t add pressure to it, like “Oh my goodness, I need to do this.”
In terms of the writing, I’m not sure how I felt about it. Most days I was literally counting the words and stopped as soon as I hit 750. It was a lot of what I need to do today and things I was worried about – which might be the point – but it’s also not very fun. I plan to continue but I’ll reread Natalie Goldberg and try to follow her method and see if that works better for me. I’m afraid to stop, that’s the truth. I like what it did for me.
One more thing — the site is beautifully designed. And by beautiful, I mean you don’t notice the design. It doesn’t feel like anything else on the web. It feels like a sacred, private place. The site (aka the creator of the site) also gives you cool stats about your writing, your sentiment while writing and even gives you a rating for violence, sexual content etc. If you like the quantified self, you’ll love the site.