My 500 Words

A community committed to writing

Resources

Know you want to start writing daily, but don’t know where to start? Wondering what tools to use?

Here’s the truth: Tools don’t really matter.

What makes you a writer is the writing.

Writing is one of the most powerful things you can choose to do. And one of the most accessible. With nothing but a pad of paper and a pen, you can begin to change the world.

But for some of us who love technology, here are a few cool resources and tools:

Accountability

If you like apps, take a look at Lift. It allows you to define your goals, and check off every day when you complete  your writing.

If you like to see cumulative progress, use a spreadsheet to log your daily wordcount. (Some of the more geeky members even make charts)

If it helps to know someone’s counting on you, pair up with a friend to check in with each other.

If it helps to get “likes” join the Facebook group and post your wordcount every day for encouragement.

Writing Software

Paper and pen (or pencil or crayon) can be awesome to unleash your creative side. If you choose this method, you can counting at 200-250 words per average notebook page. Write a few pages, then count the words to get your own true average from that. It’s not about whether you write 499 or 501. It’s about the habit.

Ommwriter: It’s a simple, distraction-free writing application to help you focus on the words.

Byword: Another minimalistic app, which synchs your file with other devices (computer, phone, tablet), so you can bounce around and work wherever you are. You can also synch with your wordpress blog or do a lot of other cool things.

Notepad/TextEdit. Most computers come with a basic word processor built in. You don’t need anything fancy, just open a document and type. Some of these apps will give you a wordcount, some won’t. Like with a notepad, just write for a set amount of time for a few days and find your average speed.

Pages/Microsoft Word: Taking another step up, Pages and MS Word give you more options, and keep a running wordcount for you. If you’re a blogger, you can also keep an eye on your running wordcount in WordPress.

Scrivener: If you’re serious about your writing and are working on long works like a book, course, or even a series of blog posts, Scrivener is a GREAT investment. It costs less than MS Word and is dedicated to writing  —  novels, non-fiction books, even screenplays and scripts. There is a learning curve, but for serious writers, it’s the only way to go.

Blogging

Every blogger has an opinion (just ask us), but in the end, your choices related to blogging are yours. There is no right or wrong answer, but there are pros and cons to every choice, and it can be overwhelming. So here’s a walkthrough of some of the key decisions:

Do I want a blog?

If you answer “no” or even “I’m not sure,” try writing for a while and sharing your work on other people’s blogs. Linda Andres, one of the original members of the My 500 Words community, has created a blog just for 500 Words members who need a place like this but aren’t ready (or interested) in having their own blog. Click here to check it out.

If you answer yes, then let’s keep rolling, shall we?

Do I want to get serious, or do I want to experiment and play around to see if this is right for me?

If you aren’t really sure about this, and you want a safe space to just try it out, get a free blog at wordpress.com.  A free blog is kind of like renting an apartment. You can mostly do what you want inside it, but there are some rules and some limitations on how you can grow. The positive side: there are some technical things you don’t have to worry about, so it’s a good place to start and learn.

Also, you probably don’t need any of the awesome things they’ll try to sell you, so don’t get freaked out. And don’t get all spun out about picking a clever name either. Dont’ get “fluffykittenstories.wordpress.com” or “talesfromtheclassroom.wordpress.com”. A clever name could end up limiting what you write about.

Use your name or a variation of it. Then you can shift gears and write about whatever you want, whenever you want.

I’m ready to take the plunge!

If you’re ready to get serious and you’re willing to invest a little bit, you’ll want a self-hosted blog. Contrary to what the name says, this does not mean you have to set a server up in your garage. It just means that you own your blog  — sort of like owning a house. You have a lot more freedom with what you can do, but with great freedom comes great responsibility — and a little bit of investment.

If you go this route, you’ll need to buy a domain name (your web address), and you’ll need a hosting service (we use and recommend Bluehost, and Jeff is an affiliate for them, but there are a lot of other great options out there, too). It’s much much simpler if you do these things at the same time from the same provider. Trust us.

If you go this route, here’s a great video on how to start from scratch in about eight minutes: http://goinswriter.com/self-hosted-blog/

And I want it to look amazing!

Once you have your blog set up, then you get to play around with how it looks. A theme is like a fashion show for your blog; you put it on like an outfit. You can pick a theme that fits your style, your voice, your topic. And then as your writing grows, or your needs change, you can change clothes and tailor your new suit to fit you just right…all without moving or changing your content.

This site uses Tribe Theme, which Jeff created when he couldn’t find anything that did what he wanted without costing an arm and a leg and another arm. And we writers need our arms!

I’m sure there are a lot more things we’ve missed, so ask away in the comments!

 

 

 

 

23 Replies

  1. Moroni Sorroche

    I’d really like to give this a try now. I am considering blogging but would like to get started first, then decide…

  2. I have a blog but have not posted for at least five months. I can’t seem to know what to post. Truthfully, I don’t think I have found my writer’s voice, despite having much to say. I think this challenge will help me grateful.

    1. shreyash

      I didnt know how to blog can u help me pls answer on my email

  3. I take the 500 word a day challenge for the next 31 days. I linked my blog. I am going to do this!!

  4. I have stepped up to the challenge of writing 500 words a day for 31 days. I wrote a new blog today (but it is over 1,000 words)

  5. I’m going to take the 500 word a day challenge for the next 31 days.

  6. Looking forward to jumping in on the challenge! Cheers everyone!

  7. Daphne Gabriel

    Am about to walk he plank and dive into this challenge for thirty one days. Endurance will be by encouraging word. Strength will be my balance. I have no topic but going forward.

  8. Jo

    Today, technically, is my first day on the 500 word challenge. It didn’t happen due to a 10 hour workday and migraine. Which is better now, thank you. Tomorrow I will have my laptop with me and can get started!!

  9. Daria Tarrant

    I’m not sure about the blogging parting and technically today is my first day of the 500 word challenge. It will have to wait until tomorrow as I have carpel tunnel and its acting up today. I just took off my brace to write this little bit and my wrist and hand are already sore and burning with pain. Sorry everyone.

  10. Marjorie Pagel

    Hello everyone who responded here. The first day’s challenge is to announce my intention to the world — or at least to someone — and this seems an excellent place to start. Actually, I accepted Jeff’s basic challenge — to write at least 500 words a day — over a month ago. What I did, though, was just to write my Morning Thoughts — whatever was on my mind. I found it took me about 15 minutes to do that. So now I’m back to take each daily challenge and write at least 500 words on that. My other major intention, which I’ll declare here, is to revitalize my website (which is really a blog.) I switched from one provider, with the help of my computer guy, to WordPress but I just keep resisting the learning curve which is bound to occur. Any encouragement about “Getting Started with WordPress” is welcome. And Jeff — if you are out there skimming these Replies — thank you. I’m on board for the second leg of this journey.

  11. Carrie lea wright

    Hello,people I took the 500 word challenge to grow and change to test my limits of my self..To do something I have dreamed about but never thought possible.I use to wright poetry for my self. But then like broke my heart with the loss of family members close to me,first my grandpa them my older brother and with in a few years of that my father died in a Va hospital with a heart attack,complications with cancer which is what he went in for .Now I am happily married gone on three years.my heart is healed and mended with my best friend my mom and husband by my side who encourage me in ever thing I do..To ever one who stared like me good luck

    1. Marjorie Pagel

      Carrie, I thought I’d write an encouraging note here. Glad you are back at writing. I find that writing helps me sort out thoughts and feelings. Even when a person is very sad, it is possible to focus on writing — maybe nothing for publication, but for your personal journal. It can help you continue healing — I’m glad you have a good support system – husband, mom, friend.

  12. Sunandhinie

    Yes would definitely like to give it a try as i love writing

  13. I joined and am looking forward to my 500 words a day.

  14. Virginia

    This is a new step for me. At 65 now, I have gone back to my first love–the English language and the endless possibilities. My problem, however, is that anything new always scares the daylights out of me. What does it mean add my url at the bottom then submit?
    Do I need a program or site to blog on, etc? I am sure I have a ton of questions building up in my head, but I would at least like to get started.

  15. I started my blog and it has absolutely nothing to do with my book or other writing projects! And I’m not confident in my blog-ability – but I know I can write!! I’m excited to join this project and have no more excuses not to apply behind-to-chair technique and create!!!

  16. Nupura Paigankar

    I really want to know how I get my writing work guidance using LIFT. what I am suppose to do for that.
    Since that I have started writing keeping my mind free and no worries of grammar or editing , problem I am really facing is I don`t understand how I start to write on the topic I have chosen to write & howI get that link of words to each other.
    CAN SOMEBODY HELP?

  17. Crystalyn

    Can the writing be about anything? Like anywhere from flash fiction to a blog? Anything that comes to mind? Or does it have to be like a blog?

  18. Alrighty, Jeff, then it begins!
    FriarWade is up to the task!

    My birthday is tomorrow.
    I can’t think of a better gift to give myself and others than to start writing. Thanks for the encouragement!

    wade+
    FriarWade
    Lakeland, FL

  19. Teri

    I would like to take the challenge with my new blog but it isn’t ready yet…It should be ready next week perhaps in the mean time I could blog on other blogs til then…. 🙂

  20. ed baptiste

    Hey everyone! I need a little help. I signed up for the challenge on Saturday. Received my confirmation immediately, but I still haven’t received my writing prompts. Any suggestions on what to do?

  21. My real problem is thinking about a topic to write on. Once I manage to get one and I struggle to write the first sentence, there is no looking back. I hope your website could help address these challenges.

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