Writing: 750words.com

What is it?:

750words.com is a site dedicated to writing, yep, you guessed it, seven hundred and fifty words a day. The concept behind it all comes from “The Artist’s Way” and the act is referred to as “morning pages”. The idea being that if you can type out at least 750 words during the day, it will clear out the cobwebs and get you ready to approach anything with a clear head (or at least a clearer one than you had before). The service itself is entirely online and private. It provides an online editor (that is spartan, but surprisingly configurable) that gives you a word count as it auto-saves your work while typing and that’s about it.

There is a community aspect to it all, but it’s not forced on you. It is simply there if you need it. There are also merit badges you can receive as well for reaching personal benchmarks in your daily practice (because that is purely what it is: practice). They give you nothing really, but it is nice/fun to have something to shoot for other than the personal satisfaction of reaching a certain typing speed, or that illustrious moment when you completed your daily entry for the thirtieth day in a row!

If this all sounds pretty simple, it is. That is the aim after all! The service’s entire function is to provide you a nonjudgmental forum for you to brain dump ideas. There are no rules, no structure and no limitations. It’s not blogging. It’s not supposed to be. No one will read this except you (though there are opportunities to share if you choose to).

How I use it:

I fire up an external editor, separate from the 750words site. Preferable one with a word count that has a distraction free, full screen mode available.

Here are some favorites of mine that cater to many different writing setups:

  1. iA Writer (iPhone/iPad, Mac)
  2. Elements (iPhone/iPad)
  3. Scrivener (Mac, Windows)
  4. Omm Writer (iPad, Mac, Windows)

After I’ve followed my writing idea to it’s inevitable completion, I stop, see how many words I’ve written and if I have over the coveted 750, I highlight it all and it paste into the editor on 750words.com. I quickly verify the site saved my words and then log out and go on with my day.

I used to try to make this a morning ritual but, to be honest, I am not much of a morning person. So I often write my words whenever I find a block of time. It doesn’t really matter when you do it, just that you do it.

Why I like it:

The idea behind the entire site is to get you to write every single day and, hopefully, make it a daily ritual. It might sound like a lot (it is actually about three pages), and somedays it totally is, but if you can do it and stick with it, it becomes an immensely rewarding experience. I am currently on my forty eighth consecutive day!

The way I always aim to start, is to come to the keyboard with an idea ahead of time. If I don’t have one (hey, it happens) I pick the first thing that floats into my head. Literally. Once I have the idea, I write and let the idea take me where ever it decides to. Sometimes it ends up veering WAY off topic. Sometimes a beautiful short story comes out of it! Sometimes it takes the form of more of a diary entry. But, at least for me anyways, it’s always an exploration. The fleshing out of an idea. It’s me taking a concept/topic and thinking it through entirely.

And, most importantly, it’s me giving myself permission to.

Our days are filling to the brim with time suckers, diversions and stupid, menial distractions. It’s gotten to the point where I often need to stop the world, unplug and do what I love to do: simply write. I shouldn’t need a reason, but having one helps.

If I don’t have my 750 words? And I promise you, this will definitely happen. I stop, take a breath and see if there is anything else I have to say. Maybe there’s another angle, or something different entirely that weaves into the topic. Point being, the act of stopping and listening to yourself is always precious, both in writing and in life.

In Closing…

The tag line of 750words.com is perfect. “Private, unfiltered, spontaneous, daily”…

I have honestly been shocked at how much those aspects of this site have benefited me. I’ve had some great ideas shake out of it and, in a lot of ways, it’s been an unexpected kind of therapy for me. Add the frequency to all of this and the fact that you are simply writing WAY more than you were before and it becomes an invaluable task to my day to day. I no longer look at it as “one more thing I have to do”. I actually look forward to it.

So if you are looking to kick start your writing into action again or for the first time,sign up for 750words account. It is literally a definitive “win-win” and will never steer you wrong. I can’t recommend it enough.

And if you end up loving it, support it!

The Web: ThisIsMyJam.com

In the hopes of mixing things up in this space, I plan on putting up some “What I Like” posts that will talk about anything and everything that I am currently enjoying quite a bit. Think of them as one shot reviews of things, services, web sites, gadgets, books, beer, hiking gear, tea/coffee, movies, really anything! These types of post are aimed at being a snapshot of what ever is striking my fancy at the moment.

In the end, my hope for these posts is to bring your attention to something that maybe you have never seen before that I hope you would enjoy (like I do).

So! Shall we? Yes? Sweet!

Today’s Topic: is a little gem of a social web service called “This is My Jam”. It’s a relatively new web site (it’s still in beta actually), but it started getting wider adoption at the beginning of this year.

This Is My Jam

What’s it Do?: it allows you to choose a song as your “jam” and it posts the tune up for the world to see (and your followers) for as long as 7 days before it asks you to choose another one. It also allows you to display your curated picks on Twitter and Facebook, if you like. The final icing on the cake? You can also listen to a stream of your followers selected “jams” as well!

I particularly like this feature because when your friends or like-minded followers create a playlist for you, it affords all kinds of fun and surprising music possibilities! It’s eclectic, engaging and, most importantly, fun!

Ok, but how easy is it to use?:

  1. Log into the site at thisismyjam.com
  2. Search for and pick a song to share. Preview it if you’d like.
  3. Write a quick blurb about the song and why you chose it (this is optional).
  4. Post it.

The Verdict:

That’s it! It’s an über simple service and I think it’s simplicity is it’s greatest strength. It serves only one purpose: to help you share your favorite tunes with the world.

But even the simplest ideas can fall flat if the implementation is poorly thought out or awkward. Thankfully, the folks behind TIMJ made the user experience and interface clean, simple and nice to look at (always a bonus). It also takes very little time to use (the last thing you or I need is another social network taking up your time).

In a world of bloated and complicated everything-and-the-kitchen-sink web-based services, it’s nice to see one that has taken a simple idea and implemented it so well.

As I said before, it’s still in it’s fledgling stages and while plenty of people use it, I wouldn’t say it’s thoroughly caught fire yet. But regardless, check it out, sign up, create an account and invite your friends! You’ll be sharing AND discovering new music in no time, I promise!

One con? I do wish they had a mobile app, but I don’t think that’s not a deal-breaker. The best picked tunes are the ones you are sitting down and listening to anyways.

So that’s it. If you like it, drop me a line on Twitter (the “follow” link is above in the header if you feel so inclined). Honestly, if you are music lover, I can’t imagine you being let down.

Here’s my TIMJ link: http://www.thisismyjam.com/thaddeushunt

Enjoy!

Tad