Today is my 100th straight day of writing 750 words a day. I missed January 1st, so I’m not going to be able to get a full calendar year streak, but I do hope to get to 365 days in a row. They say it takes 30 days to start a habit, or maybe 90 days if you are conservative, but I don’t think I can really say that writing every day is now a “habit” so much as something that I just like to do.
What is a habit anyway? The implication is that it’s something that you do automatically, without thinking. Something that would be difficult to stop doing, even if you wanted to. But the point of writing every day is to get out of the “automatic” kind of thinking that habits are made out of. It requires a bit of brute force to write 750 words, and it’s not something that you just do… it has to be intentional every time, and that’s the magic of it, I think.
So, I can’t say that writing every day is a habit, even after 100 days. It is a proof of concept for me, really. The point of building this website was to build something truly useful, something that helped me (and others) tap into the subconscious area of my/their brain, to dig up thoughts that rarely saw the light of day. To complete incomplete thoughts. Close old loops of the brain that have been unresolved. Really get to the bottom of things. Because I strive to be at the bottom of things.
Writing 750 words is like swimming to the bottom of a swimming pool. It takes a bit of effort but you can get there, no problem. And there’s a certain perspective at the bottom of the pool that you can’t really get anywhere else in or out of the pool. Of course, you can’t stay there, you can’t just keep writing 30 words a minute for the entire day, you’ll run out of breath. Eventually you have to go back to the surface and take a breath. But maybe the quality of that breath will also have something unique about it. A bit of the bottom of the pool in it. And who knows how long that lasts, before the above water world sinks in and it’s difficult to remember exactly what was so neat about the bottom of the pool. But then, you do it again the next day, and the next and the next, and 100 days later the two worlds begin to blend together. You can summon the feeling of clarity of thought while above water, and you can think about the above water world even while down at the bottom of the pool. There’s a permeability about it, of worlds fusing together, where complex thoughts and a zillion distractions can live side by side. That’s my top-of-the-head metaphor for the value of daily private writing.
I had a feeling about it when I started this project, but of course there are a million feelings about a million things that end up not being true. The only way to know if a feeling is right is to follow it to the end of its rope. If I can continue writing 750 words a day for 100 days, or 365 days, of 10 years, or the rest of my life, then I will be able to tell whether or not there is value in doing it.
I’ve gotten a lot of amazing feedback from people too. As of last night, 99 other people are on streaks of 30 days or more. That’s pretty amazing to me, that others are as into this as I am. To see that many people also being able to find the drive and motivation to start a new daily habit is something that I didn’t expect. I’m a bit of a challenge junkie, if you know me, so it made sense that I’d be able to do it, but these 99 others are people who I don’t even know, and haven’t really had to pitch the idea to. I think that’s awesome, anyway.
Since starting the project at the beginning of the year, over 18,000 people have logged in to the site to write 750 words. Over 46,000 days have been completed… meaning that there are over 46,000 days of 750 words or more. 41,819,906 words have been written.
The project is also being sustained by the good will of its members through an idea I called Patronage. I suggest a monthly donation of $3-4, but don’t require it. Each month of Patronage earns the user the ability to write a note on the site (the only publicly viewable user content on the site) either as a testimonial, a feature request, a self-promotional note about something they think others would like, an incentive to complete the monthly challenge, or a request to send a larger portion of the monthly patronage to our local charity, 826 Seattle. Even though there are almost no social networking features on the site, a sense of community is emerging from the people who are on the site, and it’s one of the things I’m most excited to explore in the future. The irony of creating a community out of a site dedicated to private journaling is not lost on me.
In any case, I’m over my 750 words now and am curious to see if my new Pheonix badge is visible from the stats page. Who’s going to be the next one to make it to 100 days in a row?