4 Comments

Accountability for writers needn’t be this complicated

Overcoming inertia, pressing through resistance, breaking through writer’s block—whatever you call it, we all struggle with it. As much as we enjoy it, writing is hard work, and there are a million temptations to keep us from it.

One way to deal with resistance is to form accountability partnerships. This was why here at NAF we ran our Works in Progress posts for so long. We’re getting by without those posts these days, but I’m always on the lookout for such resources so I can advise my clients.

750words badges

The badges are cute.

That’s why I tried out the writing site 750 Words. A friend of mine uses it, and I enjoy seeing her Facebook posts showing how many days in a row she’s written and her badges for achieving milestones. The site is designed to inspire you to write more by gamifying your writing. With points and badges as rewards for daily writing, you’ll be less tempted to skip a day or to write less on a given day. I confess, on a day I was content to slip off with a mere 660 words, I pressed on and wrote another hundred just to put me over the top. Including some of these here that you’re reading right now.

But the novelty quickly wore off, and now I’m back to tracking my productivity on a spreadsheet and not sweating over whether I wrote 750 today or merely 740. (They chose the number 750 words because that’s about three pages of writing.)

I have two problems with the site. The primary one is that there is no free version. You can get a free thirty-day trial, but after that, you’re paying. I understand they are operating a powerful site with analytics and whatnot. But many membership sites offer a free version and then upsell you on the goodies. One way 750 Words could use this freemium model would be to offer only badges in the free version, and require payment to get the analytics and social connection features.

To use 750 Words on an ongoing basis costs $5 per month, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s $60 a year, which is comparable to some writing associations but provides a lot less benefit. Compare:

Word Weavers International: $45
American Christian Fiction Writers: $65 the first year; renewals are $45
Florida Writers Association: $55 for the first year; renewals are $45

So if all I need is accountability, I could get that from one of these other groups. (Actually, I belong to all three but only use ACFW’s Novel Track program for accountability.)

750words chart

You know they almost had me with the pie charts…

The unique service 750 Words provides is its analytics, which are spiffy. But they can be misleading. For example, it often rates my work as PG, even when I fed it one of my blog posts about editing. The emotional analysis isn’t much better. My post on usage, which included a reference to Ground Zero, was flagged as being “concerned mostly about death” even though I only used that word once.

So in spite of the nifty badges and analytics, I’ve decided to give 750 Words a miss and keep using the Novel Track members as my accountability partners.

Whom do you turn to to ensure you meet your writing goals?

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About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

4 comments on “Accountability for writers needn’t be this complicated

  1. Sounds like a fun program I’d toy with if it were free, but not something I’m likely to put in my budget.
    Also, I’m a sprinter. I’m much more hare than tortoise. I know, I know, it’s said time and again to write a little every day, but I don’t. I write a lot some days and none at all other days. Some days I clean house, some days I run errands, some days I have sick kids…and some days I stick the kids in front of the TV and pound out a couple thousand words. It may not be ideal, but it’s the only way I can really do it at this stage in my life.

  2. That’s a fine service for drafting, but what about revisions? Most of my work on a book happens during revisions, and when you’re adding and subtracting, word counts don’t work.

    I write around the edges of my day. I’m not worried about word count as long as I wrote or revised SOMETHING. I got two novels and a novella out last year, so I’m working at a comfortable pace. I can do the same this year. But those gimmicky things like Nano don’t work for me, because they make me write faster than I can think. And when I haven’t thought things through, I spin my wheels, writing filler that gets cut later.

    • Excellent point, Kessie. Often the amount of time you put in is more valuable than the word count. You may start with a thousand words and end with a thousand and one, but if in the process you’ve taken your quality from good to great, that’s fantastic progress.

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