(Insert apologetic paragraph about my absence from this blog).
I'm here now.
One of the biggest revelations of teaching is how much time it takes away from writing. Actually, it would be more accurate to say how much energy it takes away from writing. I never thought I'd miss the days of the dissertation, when it was just me and the computer for hours on end...
Ok, I don't really miss those days. But I do worry that ideas are rotting in my head rather than fermenting, and I'm hoping to commit more of them to paper (or pixels, I suppose). To that end, I'm trying 750Words.com. The idea is that you write in an uninhibited and spontaneous way, every day, and the website tracks your words for you (as well as various other statistics which can be entertaining...see below). This is akin to what I call "mental barf" when helping my students through the writing process. This is the "quantity, not quality" approach, which has its use...particularly in getting over the biggest hurdle of writing: starting.
What you write is private, and presumably many people use the site for a personal journal. My 755 words today about Copland and the Communists could explain why my stats say I'm feeling "upset." Words like "insidious," "posturing" and "darkness" are bound to get those algorithms computing a profile of a rather melancholy author.
So, why a website like this instead of just sitting down and opening up MS Word every day? Well, I think, as pathetic as it might sound, it helps to have a little virtual writing coach. When you hit 750 words, a sedate green pop-up informs you of your accomplishment, and you can either keep going, or stop for the day. Points are awarded for writing at all, writing 750 words, and so forth.
During the school year, I seem to go on a diet which includes cutting out most writing, research and performing and depends solely on the nutritive qualities of lesson planning, grading, and teaching. This summer, in an attempt to be more musicologically healthy, I'm slowly introducing research and writing back into the diet. My hope is, with regular practice, healthy writing will become a part of my daily regimen, even during the school year.
I'd love to hear from those of you who use 750words or programs like it. What strategies do you have for consistent writing?