I’ll rave on about 750words.com to anyone who’ll listen. I signed up for it nearly a year ago and have been an avid user (apart from the time when I moved) ever since. It’s one of those rare apps that actually encourages you to keep going (as of writing this I’m on a 35 day streak and have written over 100,000 words in a years’ worth of entries). However, it’s also one that you can’t really ‘get’ what’s so great about it, without having tried it. (There’s also no navigation bar if you’re not logged in). So here goes:
1. The site makes you want to write.
It may be deliberate, but a huge number of comment sections in sites (and even blog editors) seem to do everything they can to stop you from writing — ugly UI, tiny text, sluggish response rate. 750 Words is anything but. Rendered in white-space, large Helvetica (plus Bree) beauty, it’s an utter joy to write on.
Saving happens automatically or by keyboard shortcut (keeping you in flow), and you get a rewarded transition when you finish your 750 words. But more on that later.
OK, badgification is pretty much run of the mill 2.0 these days, but there’s still something satisfying about getting an Albatross badge for writing 30 days straight. The badges are gorgeous, and reward all sorts of activities.
3. It makes data beautiful.
Don’t you love Feltron’s yearly reports? And hate that you’re not so hard-core to be able to continually track yourself? 750 Words uses statistical magic to show you all sorts of things about your entries — including how fast you write, the type of words you use, and even the moods of your posts (though mine have usually been more confounding than enlightening, may be my Kiwi lexicon!).
Given my PhD is to do with the senses, it’s been funny to realise that my writing doesn’t use sight words all that much. Other people may find insights from other trends.
4. You get all sorts of incentives to keep going.
There’s the daily emails, with details of your progress so far, the leader board, and testimonials. Then there’s the bowling-style points system, which defaults to zero each month. And for the motivated (or need-to-be-motivated) there’s the One Month Challenge.
Your promise to yourself should you win or lose is made public. Should you lose the challenge, your name goes on the Wall of Shame (boo); you win, on the Wall of Awesomeness (yay!). For the record, after trying and failing in June last year, I got through all of January and so am rewarding myself with coffee, just as I said I would.
For more on the site, check out the About page and FAQ. And yes, it’s free! (as in beer. Or coffee. Though cups of patronage are suggested, and in true open-source style, I’ve contributed as my way to say thanks).