challenge

Success? Failure? Experience.

This post is a risk. What if it fails?

  • Everyone will laugh at me;
  • I’ll be criticised;
  • Nobody will ever want to associate themselves with me.

Right, that’s three things to start worrying about.

I could stop right here and not bother at all. Nobody wants to lose credibility for attempting something new, right?

But what about the possibility that it will succeed?

  • Everyone will cheer with me;
  • I’ll be praised;
  • Everybody will want to associate themselves with me.
edge (photo by virtualwayfarer)

It’s a long way down… (photo by virtualwayfarer)

Neither of these possibilities rings true. But, like me, I’m sure you’ve had times when you see things in such a right/wrong, win/lose way. Things will turn out one way or the other.

Keep battling that feeling. The reality is never so clear cut.

When you think in such extremes, it’s easy to choose doing nothing over trying something new. The thought of failing can push your dreams back fast.

That’s when dreams remain dreams. You imagine great success if only you could succeed. But the fear of getting it wrong is too much.

I don’t like this way of looking at life. From this perspective, we’re standing on a rock. Looking one way, you’re at the edge of a cliff, a step away from falling. Looking the other way, the rest of the cliff rises up thousands of feet, challenging you to climb.

You don’t want to fall. That’s a given. But the climb looks hard too. You’d love to reach the top, but one false move will set you plummeting to the ground.

The best option is clear. Stay on the rock. You’re safe there. No need to take your chances when you’re on firm footing here.

Phew. That feels better.

No. I don’t like this way of looking at life. That’s not how things work.

We’re not on a rock, faced with a dangerous fall or a dangerous climb. But the metaphor is comfy. In difficult choices comes the need for an easy route.

Why? Because it’s easy to stay firmly on your rock. It’s your comfort zone. It’s what you know.

Going through a life of tests, exams, and the pressure to be right, you can’t be blamed for wanting to play it safe. One false move and you lose your place on your rock.

No. I really don’t like this way of looking at life.

Our relationship with failure and success causes so many problems. We see them as extremes when more focus should be on experiences. With each experience, we continue to learn.

Prepare to make things work, but don’t wait for perfection and don’t be scared of mistakes. That way, your risks are at least calculated. Random leaps of faith are not to be taken on a regular basis.

You are not standing on a rock. You have more choice than a sheer fall or a crazy climb.

Experiences are useful. Some are more positive than others. Keep looking for them.

Don’t dwell so much on success and failure. Choose experiences over extremes.

How 750 Words Can Help Your Productivity

Sometimes, you just want to write. But it’s not always that easy.

You sit down with the best intentions, but it’s so intimidating when you start a potential masterpiece.

Your internal editor chips away at your confidence before you have even touched the keyboard.

You have no sense of the goal you’re aiming to achieve.

And that’s where 750words comes in.

For a while now, I’ve heard some academic peeps raving about 750words.com as a fantastic way to write without distraction and other concerns. These are academic peeps I trust. So I’ve given the service a go.

And I give it a thumbs up.

When you want something a little more inviting than an empty document and a flashing cursor, 750words may be the trick. It doesn’t offer much more than a blank page and it still features a flashing cursor —Hey, stick with me!— However, there are other reasons why the service may help you write more than other methods:

  1. Free-writing: Instead of carefully thinking about what you have to say, you may prefer to riff and find your voice by bashing out a load of words. Even if you find 95% of the words come out as irrelevant rubbish, the remaining 35–40 words may be exactly what you wanted. That may not sound like much, but it could be enough to spark something amazing.
  2. Challenges: 750words gives you the option to sign up to a monthly writing challenge, where you promise to write 750 words every single day in the month. If you do, you make the Hall of Fame. If you don’t, you make the Hall of Shame. If you thrive on that type of thing, the monthly challenge is for you!
  3. A blank page: Distractions aren’t welcome. If you want a blank screen, free from other goodies, you’ve come to the right place. 750words is pretty limited in terms of features. All on offer is a place to type some plain text. No fancy fonts, no bold and italics, no special layout features. Just type away until you reach the magical number of words required.
  4. No need to check word counts: Just keep on writing until you get to 750 words. When you do, you’re congratulated. And if you’re on a roll, great! Just keep writing until you’re done. You can see how many words you’ve written by looking at the bottom of the screen. No procrastination or interruption necessary by checking the ‘Word Count’ option. It’s all there for you already.
  5. Statistics: Want to know how long it takes you to write those words? 750words will tell you. Concerned about how many times you’ve moved away from your writing with other distractions on the computer? 750words will tell you. Wondering what types of words you tend to use most? 750words will tell you.

I’ve tried the service for over a week now and I enjoy the simplicity of the service. I’m not bothered about writing a particular number of words every day and I doubt I’ll sign up for the monthly challenges any time soon. I’ve already missed a day on purpose.

Still, there is certainly something satisfying about writing until you reach the number of words allotted. You cannot change the number of words set in the challenge, but nobody is forcing you to stick to that specific number of words. You can write a single sentence and stop, or you can keep going until you’ve written a whole book in a day. It’s up to you.

The user average each day is just over 900 words. I think 750 is a pretty good number to work with for most situations, though. That works out as a pretty good length for a blog post, and it’s half a 1500-word essay. You’re being challenged, but not made to bust a gut.

Here’s one more thing for you to consider: This post was written using 750words on one of my days. It took about 12 minutes to write. And I spent about ten minutes editing after that; so the post wasn’t originally a complete mess, even though I blasted it out quickly.

Remember, even if you have no use for 95% of what you write, the 5% of awesome you can use is worthwhile. And, in the case of this blog post, I only took out a few words. More like 95% used, 5% chucked out. Win!

Next time you want to get your write on, give 750words a whirl. Take up the challenge. You may just surprise yourself!