Monday, 23 August 2010

Track Your Writing Progress

Last week, I posted an entry about making your own motivation to write. I feel like I possibly left things hanging, as I missed out two of the Internet-based tools for helping you to write, for both keeping you motivated and keeping track of your progress. How remiss of me! So here I am, on my vacation, but still blogging to pass on what I know in the hope it may be of some use.

http://750words.com
Have you signed in to this service yet? It's very easy - I personally sign in using the Google ID I already have, although you can also sign in using Facebook, Yahoo or OpenID, as well as creating an account. The idea behind the site came from the famous notion of "morning pages" in The Artist's Way. I've never read the book, but I do know that author Julia Cameron recommends writing three pages, ideally longhand, in the morning. The idea is to purge the mind of random nonsense, to get it ready for creating. I've seen this described elsewhere as being akin to clearing the rubbish out of an attic before you can redecorate.

Well three pages equates to roughly 750 words, hence this site! You can use it for whatever you want - writing your novel in progress, keeping a journal, doing a brain dump...whatever! It saves your work as you go but beware, it won't save it beyond your current session, so if you're writing a novel, you'll need to copy and paste into Word (or similar). Personally, I use it as a brain dump of whatever is bothering me, so instead of keeping a journal or ranting at my loved ones, I let off steam and write about the things on my mind, thus clearing my brain and getting me ready for creative endeavours!

Now, I've managed to write on five days in August, and in that time, I've written 3,987 words. When you've written your 750 words (or more), you get to check out your stats for that day. Some of my most frequently used words for today's words were "because, done, first, know, people and write". Most of it was written about the present, and the primary sense used is sight! Beyond these somewhat random stats, you get a little scorecard, which is a neat little way to keep your motivation up. After all, you've written for four days straight - you don't want to break your streak, do you?

Write or Die
This is my other favourite tool. People need deadlines - it's so easy to find an excuse not to write if you think it isn't required or expected. As the About page says, "Many people find themselves unable to write consistently. I believe that this is because their reason to write is intangible. For instance, I want to write and finish a book because I want to be published and make a living as a writer. That goal is a long way away so I often find it difficult to sit down to the task of writing. Conversely, I'm in a creative writing class for which I manage to consistently write and finish projects (albeit at the last minute). I therefore draw the conclusion: A tangible consequence is more effective than an intangible reward."

If you want to use the application, just select either your word goal or time goal (handy if you only have ten minutes to spare), along with the consequences for not writing (four different modes that range from a pop up box reminder to the application actually 'un-writing' your writing) and the grace period (three options depending on how quickly you want the consequences to kick in) and away you go.

The idea is not to edit, so when you're finished writing, you have to copy and paste your text into an editor. The concept is based on doing your writing in a burst, and then editing later, at a more leisurely pace. Write or Die just wants you to get the words down - after all, you can't edit what you haven't written.

Which will you choose?
So there you go. Two tools to help you keep track of how much you write, or to make sure you keep writing! Go on, give them a go, or why don't you let me know how you've managed with either of them?

5 comments:

PJ said...

Icy - I am reading Cameron's book and i am currently on day 10 of using 750words.com. I *highly* recommend it. i can usually do it in 15 minutes or less so it really is not a big commitment. i can usually squeeze it in while the kids are eating breakfast. it's beneficial to do it 1st thing in the morning although later in the day is fine too. i do a brain dump of all the things that are worrying me or things that i have to do or remember. it's really terrific and has decreased my stress. It could also be used as a writing tool if u want, but it's meant to be a rough journal of sorts - nothing polished, just a brain dump. Good post! :-)

WritersBlockNZ said...

Thanks for this post! I had never heard of 750 words and am now signed up =D

Icy Sedgwick said...

PJ - I had to add in what I've been using 750 words for! I have felt slightly 'lighter' since I started doing it.

WBNZ - So glad to have helped!

Jen Brubacher said...

I love the idea of getting to know which words you used most often during a session.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Jen - Heh, yeah, it's shocking how much I swear in my journal entries.

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