About a decade ago, I joined up with a group of women formed to collectively work through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (a book I highly recommend). We didn’t get very far, as the group turned into more of a life-goals support group, which turned out to be exactly what we each needed.
The most enduring thing I came away with from the book was the concept of “morning pages” — three pages, written out by hand, first thing in the morning. It’s a great practice and I kept it up for awhile. It helps get “gunk” out of your head, clearing out some of the petty and self-defeating thoughts and moving you into deeper insights.
Of course, as with other practices, this fell by the wayside somewhat — I do it in fits and starts now, ending up with piles of half-empty notebooks scrawled with my inscrutable, messy left-handed handwriting. I still write in notebooks at time, and try to keep one next to my bed to write down those hard-to-hold-onto dreams. I know that there is a different mind/output connection when I’m writing by hand.
But, if I’m writing for another reason besides self knowledge — to use those bits of dreams, of stream-of-consciousness in fiction, essays, or memoir — it makes sense to do the morning pages on my computer, where it’s legible, searchable, easy to edit. And guess what? I’ve found a tool for that.
750 Words is a website created precisely for morning pages. If you sign up for it, you get an email every day, your Daily Nudge, encouraging you to write those words. You click through to the site, type away, and, as with NaNoWriMo, you get pats on the back: acknowledgement that you’ve reached 750 words, an X in the box for that day, and lots of metrics — graphs and statistics on how many words, how many days, how much time it took you.
Here’s an example of the stats, from my page (yes, I’m embarrassed):
This month’s stats
- You have 18 points this month
- You have written 5087 words this month
- We are on day 24 of 31 for January
- 6 daily pages started this month
- 6 daily pages completed this month
- You’ve participated in 25% of the days this month
- You’ve completed 25% of the days this month
- 286 days since you joined
- 14 daily pages started
- 14 daily pages completed
- You’ve participated in 5% of the days since joining
- You’ve completed 5% of the days since joining
There are even interesting charts on most-used words and connections to what you’re focusing on, what your mood might be based on the content of your writing, and how that compares to the “world” (of writers on 750 Words, anyway). The site groups this information under “Entering your subconscious” — and it’s revealing to browse through it and discover that your mindset is Introvert-Positive-Uncertain-Feeling, right in line with the rest of the world.
You can save the writing online, but I also copy it and save it to a journal file on my own computer.
It’s a simple tool, an effective nudge, and I should be responding to that nudge every day.