In his web-site-turned-book Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far, Stefan Sagmeister says keeping a diary supports personal development. I couldn't agree more. Writing is a form of thinking, and journaling is a great way to help yourself think personal issues through.
I've fallen off the journaling wagon lately though, but inspired by former Lifehacker editor D. Keith Robinson's tweet tonight, I'm getting back on using Buster Benson's 750 Words webapp. The concept of 750 Words is simple: every day, you type 750 words--the equivalent of three pages--of stream of conscious, whatever you want, free writing. You earn points and badges for every day you type any number of words. Your entries, which are private by default (despite the somewhat alarming Facebook Connect login), can be exported at any point. Buster's one of the kings of personal data visualization (just look at the guy's homepage), so it makes sense that when you're done writing you get all these interesting analytics and charts about your piece, like how long it took you, what words you used the most, and what you talked about. Explore the public stats page to get a taste. Here's a screenshot of the data I got after writing my first entry tonight, a literal braindump of the most random thoughts I had about today.
Despite just completing a 39,000 word book manuscript and spending four years blogging daily, writing those 750 free-think words tonight wasn't easy. Still, I signed up for the 750 Words March challenge, promising myself a mint chocolate chip shake if I file 750 a day in March. We'll see how it goes.
In the meantime, thanks to Buster for creating such a quirky-cool webapp. Looking forward to spending time in it this month.