Aside – It Works for Me!

Writing started at 9:05am and proceeded thusly:

Words today:
Time to 750:
Total time:
Words per minute:
23 wpm when typing
# distractions:
Good job!

Mindset while writing…


As a writer I know the value of free writes, or timed writing, also known as stream of consciousness writing. In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron calls  the process Morning Pages.   And I endorse this practice wholeheartedly!  Unfortunately, I don’t always put into practice that which I believe.

I started following Natalie Goldberg’s method for timed writings back in the 90s which she detailed in Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind.  Earlier this year when I decided to write again, I pulled her books and my old notebook and started the process once again.  I think the goal is to fill a 70 page composition book monthly.  A timed writing requires only a pen, paper, a minimum of ten minutes, and half your brain.  To make timed writings even easier, Goldberg provides many prompts in her books.  But alas, I still hadn’t finished the notebook that I started at the first of the year by the time July rolled around.

That’s when I discovered  It was a great discovery because this unassuming place on the web is doing it for me.  I’m hooked.  The brainchild of Buster Benson, its tagline says it all:  private, unfiltered, spontaneous, daily.  The site encourages writers to write 750 words (about three pages) every day.  Interestingly, he took the basic idea from Cameron’s Morning Pages and created a new format.

Why is this working for me when the Goldberg method did not?

1.  Simplicity.  As simple as pen and paper is, grabbing my ultra thin ultra light laptop, closing my eyes and letting it rip is simpler.  I’m old-school and like the connection between paper, pencil, and brain, but with some nurturing I’m developing a strong connection with my Mac.

2.  Privacy.  My handwritten notebooks aren’t really private and that’s inhibiting.  Because I could die tomorrow and my heirs would have access to my inner thoughts, along with anything I’ve written about them I’d always scribble very messily in my notebooks.  That way, anyone glancing through them would have difficulty deciphering and maybe give up. But the problem is, I often have trouble deciphering them myself.  At password protected, no one sees my ramblings but me and I can usually read what I’ve typed.

In case you ever want to see your entries again they are searchable, downloadable,  and printable.

3.  Incentives.  Buster has developed a monthly point system and I work hard for points.  I can also earn badges such as penguins and flamingos based on the number of consecutive days that I write.  I know that writing in itself should provide me enough intrinsic motivation to write daily, but I like earning my stickers.  It’s one of my biggest faults.  The fact that I’m competitive and like competing with myself most of all leads me to the site every day.   That flamingo is mine!

4.  Reminder email.  Buster emails me daily that I need to write 750 words.  In the email he also tells me how many days in a row I’ve written and the number of points I’ve earned for the month, two motivating helps.  I’m a person driven to check items off a list, or in this case, to move emails to the trash as quickly as possible so this helps me to get it done.

5.  Clean Slate.  I start each month with a clean slate.  I didn’t start the July challenge until the fourth day of the month and I missed a daily write or two, so sadly, I was not one of the top point winners in July.

But today is August 1 and my slate is clean. And Buster has a new trick up his sleeve this month that I really like.

We can opt to set a tangible reward for ourselves if we write every day in August.  I’ve often used tangible rewards to motivate myself to do sit-ups or to get my closets organized,  so this isn’t new to me.  But what is new is the penalty part.  We can create a penalty for ourselves If we miss just one day of writing.  My reward for writing every day in August will be a 90 minute massage.  My penalty for missing just one day will be a donation to  It could be called putting your money where your mouth is.

This provides me even greater incentive than earning a penguin.  Why?  It’s called loss aversion, a principle of behavioral finance that says we will go to greater lengths to avoid losing money than we will to gain an equal amount!

The site also offers other cool things such as metadata, which tracks the various emotional content of your subconscious through your entries and compares it with the world.  I’m not convinced of its scientific validity, but it is fun.  (The stats at the beginning of this post were lifted from today’s writing.)  I mentioned that I didn’t come out a top point earner in July, but I am one of the 262 members out of the 782 who started the July challenge to finish!  That makes me feel better.  That is just one example of the many statistics available on this site about your writing and about the writing of others you share the space with.

I love so much that I might be motivated enough to donate anyway, even though I don’t plan to fail.  It’s that’s good.


3 responses to “ – It Works for Me!

  1. Pingback: On Working From Home | Return2Writing

  2. Pingback: The Artist’s Way | Return2Writing

  3. Pingback: On Working From Home | Candi Deal

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