Month: December 2012


750 Words

Recently, I started using a site called 750 words. Its name basically sums up what it is. Basically, you sign up for the site and you just type in daily writings. It does analysis of your words and tells you all kinds of stats about what you’ve written, how long it takes you to write, how many interruptions you typically have, etc. According to the site, 750 words is about 3 printed pages of work, so you are making good-sized chunks of writing each day. Each entry is private, so you don’t have to worry about grammar or spelling (though you’d obviously want that to be improving as you went). Another neat feature is that the creator has made it very easy to export your writings. You own it, you shouldn’t have to worry about being locked in. I definitely appreciate that aspect of the site.

I started 37 days ago and I’ve completed 37 days. I’m a bit of a compulsive person, so once I build up a habit like this, it actually stresses me out to break it. I’m probably the poster child that the site’s founder had in mind when he created the site. Each month, there are also “challenges” that you can participate in. You sign up and commit to write something every day for that month. I’m 13 for 13 in December so far (obviously since I’ve written every day for the last 37). The site even lets you define a reward and a penalty for completing or not completing the challenge. There is no way to enforce it, it is just for fun.

The site is such a simple concept (the best ones are), but I’ve found it really helpful to get into a writing habit. At first, I would just write about my day. I haven’t had a private “general purpose” blog in a while, so I did that. However, that only lasted about 4 or 5 days before I grew tired of it. 3 pages of good stuff doesn’t happen to me EVERY DAY! My original goal was that I’d be able to free write and take notes and use those notes as primers for blog posts. I changed that goal a few weeks ago.

During TekPub‘s Black Friday Sale, I signed up for my own personal annual TekPub Subscription. Two years ago, my employer bought me one, but I work for myself now and I needed to invest a little more in my education. What I started doing was “live blogging” the videos as I watched them. This served three purposes.

  1. Complete my Daily 750 Words
  2. Watch a New TekPub Video Every Day
  3. Create Lots of Very Useful Notes For Future Blog Posts

To date, I’ve watched the entire TekPub Speed Series with Sam Saffron, the Node Series, and all of the Jon Skeet Stack Overflow Question of the Day TekPub TV videos, “live blogging” them all. Along the day, I have paused to journal some incredible days that I’ve had or some interesting projects that I was working on, but I always fall back to the TekPub videos as a great source of content. The bonus is that I’ve learned a great deal so far.

Today’s blog post is a little meta. This post itself is today’s 750 Words. No need to write 1500 words today when a little reuse can do. I’m a programmer, after all, appropriate reuse is the goal.

Why might be appropriate for you? Maybe you don’t have a blog, technical or personal. Perhaps you don’t see the use of writing all of these daily words with no intention of anyone ever reading it. I think for someone like that, the site still has merit. First, one of many developers’ greatest weaknesses is communication. I’ve seen it over and again that clients aren’t happy with the level of communication (particularly written communication) from their developers. And we all know that the best way to build a muscle is to work that muscle, so daily writing will help.

Secondly, you may discover that you have a love of writing. Maybe your words won’t ever get beyond the vault, but maybe you’ll write and find that you enjoy it. If 750 words really is about 3 printed pages, in 3 months, you could have about 270 pages of material. Assuming you kept a consistent theme or themes, you are actually a good deal of the way to having written a book. You could export your posts, edit them into a more coherent theme, and publish them to the world on the Kindle store.

Since book writing is something that I’ve always wanted to do at least once, I’ve certainly considered that route, but for now I’m just trying to build blog posts. Maybe one day soon, I’ll build that into a book. I don’t know now if it would be fiction or non-fiction, technical or not, for now I’m just enjoying the writing process.

So, if you can see any value in daily writing at all, head on over to 750 words and create an account and start writing. At the risk of being a cliché, the journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. Do 750 Words today, take the first step.