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Show HN: Write every day, measure your progress, achieve your writing goals (writingstreak.io)
262 points by rayalez 20 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 79 comments

I've been reading a book called Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini. He dropped a writing productivity tip he learned from a colleague which is to always stop in the middle of writing something so that the desire for resolution will pull you in and get you off to a quick start the next time you sit down to work. Humans crave resolution.

I do a similar thing with code. Walking away while my code doesn't compile or a test doesn't pass is the best because when I sit down the next day my attention is already focused where it needs to be. No time wasted trying to figure out where I left off or where I should start.

Interestingly, Hemingway was famous for doing this.

> When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and is it is cool and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have writ- ten and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and you may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can hap- pen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.

via https://www.mhpbooks.com/excerpt-ernest-hemingways-last-inte...

I recall reading the same of Stephen King. When completing the final page of a book, he writes the first page of his next novel in the same sitting.

If I walk away in the middle of an unsolved problem, it persists in the back of my mind and is mentally exhausting. I won't be able to sleep or let go of the problem; only potential solutions race around my mind.

However, if there is a clear boundary of work accomplished, I break the build with a simple syntax error and avoid thinking about the next task. I can step away from work completely, without any lingering thoughts, and the next time I am back at it, the syntax error helps me jump in right where I left off.

> I break the build with a simple syntax error

I do this by literally writing, in plain (albeit sometimes colourful) text, what I was doing at the point I had to stop. Then when I come back to it later and hit build, the compiler reminds me where I left off.

I like the intentional syntax error approach here. That's way better than times I've done: /* NOTE: you left off here!!! */

I use #error (and on compilers that support it #warning) to leave unignorable messages over my codebase for things that need doing.

Just leave the start/end comment off it and it works just as well. :D

This is a tip in Clean Code also if I remember correctly. I have used it a lot to great success, start the day with the compile error you made the day before or unit test (dont check in)

Well all issues should end up as unit test anyway, so if you're not doing the latter, you're not doing it right no matter what.

> always stop in the middle of writing something

This absolutely works for me when I'm writing technical specs. Leaving some trivial bits for the next day helps to start it off faster.

Cool tool, I really like the idea and workflow it promotes!

Only question I have is about the content I write into your text box. Is it still mine? Is it private to everyone (even your servers)? Writing is a personal exercise and can be creatively rewarding, but only if you've got the confidence that it's still solely _your_ writing and that you control who can see it and when. The only privacy callout I see in your about section is regarding other users on the app not being able to see your content. A paragraph about what you do with the writing I put in your tool would help me not feel worried that I'm writing with someone over my shoulder who owns my words as I pen them.

Again, good work so far!

Before you sign up, all of the data is saved in your browser. Technically you could use it like this indefinitely, but this is mostly for demo purposes, so some of the functionality won't be available (like sharing data across devices, email reminders, public profile page). Also if I will make significant changes to my database in the future, this may cause issues. So that's not the best solution.

In the future I'm planning to create a desktop app, that might be the perfect solution if you really don't want your data to leave your computer.

Meanwhile, I can promise you that I will never share your data with anyone. I'm not using extra sophisticated encryption or anything like that (that would be an overkill for a writing app), but I'm using Atlas [1] to store your data (they're really good and competent database as a service provider), and on my end I've made sure that nobody can read what you wrote without your password.

There's no such thing as flawless security I suppose, but I'm trying to follow the best practices, so unless you're writing a short story about your social security number falling in love with your credit card pin code, or a novelization of NSA's deepest darkest secrets, I wouldn't worry too much about this =)

[1] https://www.mongodb.com/cloud/atlas

seconded. I would definitely use this, but only if I knew none of the text content was being shuttled to another server

Hey everyone!

I've just published a beta of my new app for writers, it is a simple tool meant to help you develop a daily writing habit, track your progress, and achieve your writing goals.

I'm looking for some feedback:

- What are your first impressions? Does it look useful?

- Is the functionality easy to understand?

- What can I do to make it better? Any ideas on design, functionality, onboarding, marketing, etc would be very helpful.

- Any other thoughts/suggestions/advice?


- Consider a contrasting color for some of the elements. You have a pretty monochromatic palette and it unintentionally reads as "plain".

- Chunking. I think you can cut down that home page a ton, and get to the point clearer. It will feel more "marketing fluff" but fight that urge. It's not to make it fluffy, it's to simplify the things to parse.

For example, if you remove:

"You're looking at a very simple but powerful tool that will help you:

Develop a daily writing habit.

Massively increase your writing output.

Master the art of writing in a fun and engaging way!

If that sounds interesting - read on to learn how it works."

and start with your second paragraph, It's so much stronger:

" Write every day, skyrocket your productivity

There are three ways to increase your writing productivity:

Write more consistently.

Write more words.

Write faster.

Let's see how this app will help you to improve each of these metrics.

Thank you for your advice!

I definitely should get better at writing a copy. I'll try to trim it down, make it stronger and clearer.

I'm thinking I will add a bright theme, some people may prefer it and it will have stronger contrast.

Make friends with a copy editor - or hire one if you can afford it.

My partner is one, and she went through a project of mine the other week. So much got cut, and initially I was a bit offended. I didn't think it read like "me" any more.

Then I read it again a few days later and, holy moly, I realised how much better it was for it.

This is such great feedback. Relevant to this product/project, one of the hardest things to learn is "how to write" in the sense of actually getting the words out on the page. Once that becomes habit, the real challenge is learning how to edit. That hack and slash is really hard, but it makes for really powerful pieces.

Great idea, but charging more than it costs to get Office365 was an immediate nope for me.

I love the idea, but I agree that the pricing is just wrong.

At $120 USD per year it's probably one of the most expensive and less featured text editors in the market.

How much would this cost if it was a desktop or even a mobile app? Probably much less than 1 year of the service.

Well, at the moment I'm giving away free lifetime accounts just for some helpful feedback or social media sharing =)

Just from a marketing perspective...

We don't need to know that on your landing page. That's your business plan, and honestly you might not even follow it.

By the time you get to that point, you may have chosen to go with an ad model, or you may have added some new features that make this clearly worth $10 per month, and VERY different from Office 365.

Just remove that bit. Use this space to share with me the appeal of your tool RIGHT NOW, not the potential cost of your tool at some future point.

I'm excited to try your product. I've been struggling to get into a writing habit and definitely could use something like this!

I honestly don't understant what it does. What is a "daily writing habit"?

Is this meant for authors? Is it a speed typing thing?

First impressions:

- Cool a new writing app. I was looking for one of those (seriously)

- The first thing i noticed was the content. My eyes totally skipped over the writing are.

- I can start typing right away. Yay.

- I can use google auth. Double Yay!

- Overall concept is easy to understand and adds value.


- kudos for releasing. That is a milestone many don't reach.

- Quite a bit too monochrome. The muted colors take away from the marketing message. On the landing page, you can get a bit more poppy and save the mutedness for the actual writing area.

- Landing page as primary interface is an interesting choice. On the plus side, you can start writing immediately, which is kind of awesome. On the other hand, your landing page content describing the hotness feels like so much clutter as a result.

- Using the landing page as the primary interface means that the typing area is quite restricted in size. I saw that you can go full screen, but I just want to have the rest of my browser window work.

- Halfway-adaptive design. Your site is smart enough to deal with browser window resizing, but why force me to a certain maximum width for writing?

- I like all the writing gamification and timing features

- The marketing content is presented in a quite dense way. You could add a lot of white space and get more 'bang' for you work. As it is, so many features are packed in that individually, they don't get the impact they deserve.

- The marketing content comes off a bit too much feature driven. Almost like it was a feature description from a spec document. You could shorten the text up and cut it down by half and get more from it.

- The design aesthetic seems to me a curious mix of muted and restrained, and yet still feels packed and cluttered. Consider adding some more white space and softening some edges.

I've got more but this is probably enough to start.

Thank you for great feedback!

- Many people have mentioned the monochrome scheme. Some like it, some don't, I've decided that I will add a bright theme as an option.

- I will work on improving the design of the landing page, making it more concise and less cluttered. Meanwhile you can click the "About" button in main menu to hide all that information.

- The narrow width and a restricted height are a design choice, I figured it's more convenient to see the whole interface at a glance, when the window gets too large it's hard to look at all the stats. I think I should add a setting allowing people to customize this stuff.

- I will figure out how to write a better copy and improve the general UI design. I've tried really hard to make it awesome, but I think I'll need to do better. Maybe I'll ask for some advice from a professional copywriter/designer.

FWIW I found your feature descriptions pretty tight and compelling. It was cool to read through what's available and then pop to the top of the screen to see it in action (particularly the typewriter and blur modes).

The main thing I didn't get a feel for was how this works as your document gets longer, or you're working on multiple documents. If you're writing a book does the whole thing end up being in the same text area and you just scroll around? Is there a save/load?

I love the kudos with respect to releasing.

It really is a milestone many don't reach.

You may have missed the “Alt+F” trick

I agree writing daily helps, far more than just writing.

I've written at least daily in my blog every day since January 2011. Here are the 3,000+ posts: http://joshuaspodek.com/archives.

Some side benefits: when I applied for a column at Inc. and they asked for writing samples, I could send them thousands. My book became a bestseller.

The main benefits: thinking more clearly, ability to start new habits, self-awareness, and many personal leadership/growth things like that.

I've spent nearly zero cash on the habit.

"There are three ways to increase your writing productivity: Write more words."

As a daily journal-er....I'm wary of the idea that writing more words is a net-gain for writing productivity and favor the school of thought that you just pick up a pen (or keyboard) and write something for a consistent period of time, period.

Instead of writing more words, rack up more days consecutively where the conscientious decision to write something-a two sentence blurb about something interesting on your commute or a two paragraph summary of the day.

Volume will come naturally from this IMO. "Without commitment you'll never start, without consistency you'll never finish" - one of my favorite actors[1]


Well designed site!

I used something similar: 750words.com for a year

within few months the streak turned to torture.

There was no noticeable improvement in my adult writing skills yet I felt obliged to keep the chain going.

The happiest day of that year was when I mixed up time zones and missed one day.

Have not written anything seriously since.

That is like one Lord of The Rings or six 1984 every two years. A month and change for Animal Farm. Two months for "man bash".

It sounds like a full time job.

It really did not take that long each day maybe 30minutes max.

The problem stemmed from dearth of possible topics.

Thus my writing degenerated into some sort of free association chains reminiscent of most blogs.

Get those 750 words done and you can get on with your day!

Maybe an Edgar Wallace inspired topic generator would have been handy.

I have a similar website for french people: www.3pages.fr

It seems like some people do get into dark places when they break their chains. I've considered several times having a limit that would prevent you from writing 30 days in a row or something.

Ideas: Allow users to specify which days of the week are writing days and only track that streak. For every certain period of time (14 days?) completed, the user gets a vacation / skip day. This way the user can keep the streak going without having to write every day and can take days off when needed without losing their streak.

I strongly agree. Made my "dream text editor", launched with a focus on gamification tools designed around making people write more. Although people liked it (3rd product of the day on Product Hunt, a bunch of sign-ups), in time it became evident that gamification tools create more problems than they solve. We removed/sent to background most of them since, besides a writing calendar and general statistics. I'm more happy to use it now and have a small - about 2% of registered users - awesome community.

There exists a similar "app" with the same premise: http://750words.com/

I used to use it long long time ago. It had other interesting features like sentiment analysis of entries. You could see for example that you were really sad that that week in december 2 years ago...

Hugely underrated in the tech-blogger-sphere: reading books (not audiobooks), lots of them, and from a wide genre, time, and style spectrum. It's not just about plowing through the 10,000 hours, it's also about taking inspiration from really great writers. Writing every day and exclusively listening to non-fiction won't make much of a dent on your quality graph.

why not audiobooks?

Anything that is non-fiction or requires going over some segments more than once, reading is better than audiobooks.

And actually, even in the case of fiction, some books have had me re-read over certain parts a few times. For e.g. Three Body Problem has parts which I had to read over, in contrast all the four Hyperion books were relatively easy to follow in audio format.

Where possible, I use audio books as a follow up after I have read the text.

But, most non-fiction books (atleast for me) work better in text format where I can pause, take notes where needed, go over the content again and proceed.

Personally, I prefer writing on paper to typing on a computer for my own personal purposes.

Writing with pen and paper just feels more immediate.

I also got some fountain pens a couple years ago, and I made a bit of a hobby out of it. Having nice tools makes thw work easier, and sorta motivated me to write more in the first place.

I have found that I can type much faster than I can write with pen and paper. I am curious what you think about that. Do you find writing with pen and paper equally fast or is it that the speed of writing does not matter while creative-writing?

Writing on a computer also offers the additional convenience of going back in the text, and correcting something, restructuring sentences, reorganizing paragraphs. I find these things to be clumsy while writing with pen and paper. What are your thoughts regarding this?

Finally, I would like to know why do you find fountain pens nicer than ball-point pens?

Hey -

First of all, I really appreciate this! I love the timed sessions that makes you keep writing.

A few things:

1. It lost a bunch of my writing. I was writing in zen-mode and went back to normal mode. I did this a few times. I do not believe I refreshed, but everything I had just written in zen-mode was lost (what I had from earlier in normal-mode was still there).

2. I wish zen-mode didn't automatically go into full-screen mode

3. I wish I could just have a normal-interface mode with a large writing area and no instructions below

4. Am I missing something or is there only 1 writing "document" per day? It seems like I should be able to save what I've written and start a new piece. Otherwise it's hard to actually develop any real content there.

Thanks again, this is really cool!

This is quite good. Maybe not the direction you're thinking of taking this, but it would be nice to have some optional social features; e.g. community writing prompts, commenting, etc. I used to use a site that would give you a 5 minute writing prompt and then allowed other users to read and comment on the daily entries. It was really fun and encouraging! I'd love to have an "HN Daily Writers" group to practice with.

Incidentally, it would also make the subscription a much more compelling value proposition.

I want writing streak to be a simple tool that does one thing very well, so I tried to avoid adding a lot of extra functionality.

I have built a project that I think you might find interesting: https://fictionhub.io/

It's a writing community where you can post stories, share and receive feedback, etc.

The idea of making it centered specifically around the daily writing exercises, prompts, etc is interesting. I might be able to use the fiction hub platform to make something like that, I'll need to think about it.

which site are you referring to archagon?

The visualizations are a really nice way to stay motivated. I have been hoping to see more of these types of concepts used. The Apple Watch has different goals that it sets out for long term accomplishments which have helped me plan out my month better to reach those goals. Following the 30-day cycle is a nice stepping stone for that. Maybe add more of these types of goals or rewards like "wrote x words in a day" "7 day streak" "new records" ... Etc.

The only writing habit I have that I can do nearly everyday without effort is writing comments on HN. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing.

This app is nice, but it encourages quantity and noise. Most literate people don't need to write more. They need to learn how to express themselves concisely and meaningfully: http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/politics/english/e_polit

My reasoning is that writing well is a result of high skill, and skill is the result of practice. The purpose of writingstreak is to help people practice.

Put this in big giant letters on top of your landing page. Many aspiring writers tend to confuse practice with publishable output. Practice a lot, output a little.

Hey, this is strikingly similar to a tool I built a number of years ago, and used personally for some time. All the way down to the color scheme and the heatmap style calendar. Great job on shipping - something I never did!

My only real immediate feedback is that your initial editor gets drowned out in the monochrome color scheme among everything else on the page. I had to go hunting for it. Otherwise the "just start, then create an account" is a great workflow that I've used successfully in other places. However, most users don't understand in-browser saving versus saving on your server. I would recommend making a stronger push toward signing up for an account in order to save.

In my app I had a feature built to "ramp up" your writing. This was great because I didn't have to immediately start out writing say, 500 words a day - I could start small with 50. Once I hit that the counter goes up and the next day I have to write 60, then 70, and son on. It doesn't have to be linear, but being able to start small and increase my progress each day was much less intimidating.

Why does everything have to be metrics-driven today? My creative efforts are the things I least want to subject to metrics and tracking.

"You improve what you measure."

Metrics help me to focus, improve my results, stay motivated. They turn sometimes difficult and confusing process into a fun game.

Like if you're writing a long novel, or trying to blog regularly - seeing a measurable, tangible progress is extremely helpful.

That's not for everyone of course, not all people need this, but some people like it.

Sure. But also.."When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure." (a paraphrase of Goodhart's law)


I think I'm missing something, there is no mention about _why_ I should do that? What's the purpouse? In other topics it's obvious to me, if I'd read "execise every day" I understand it's for health benefits, to get stronger, etc. But what do I get from writing every day? Why should I do that? Is it writing like a diary or a journal or what?

Speaking for myself, morning writing has been a very therapeutic and useful tool for me. I've noticed that on days that I start off with a half-hour of quiet writing in the morning, my thoughts throughout the day are a little clearer and I feel more focused.

Here's a good explanation by someone else who does this: https://www.chriswinfield.com/morning-pages/

It's an app for writers who want to learn to develop a habit and regularly practice their craft. The point is to write more, develop skill, be more productive.

It helps practice thinking a whole idea through to its conclusion. You will also get better at writing.

I like many of these ideas, and I'd like an Emacs adaptation. I may start with this one:

> One very powerful way to break through the writer's block and produce more words is to deliberately separate the process of writing from the process of editing. To make this easier, you can press Alt+T to turn on the "Typewriter" mode. It will disable all the text editing options (backspace, delete, select), you will only be able to write. You can also press Alt+B to blur the text you're typing, this will prevent you from rereading what you wrote.

Less is sometimes more.

I'd also suggest mindfulness for writers block. Can't write? Meditate instead. Afterwards, you'll feel much more focussed.

Sounded promising, so I signed up. Then I realized I didn't really understand what to write about.

Would be cool if you gave prompts to write about. Also not a huge fan of the UX. Lot of icons and stuff, got confused a bit.

I frequently find myself encountering this problem when I feel like writing. Ideas to write about would be great - I've never been a great free-writer.

I quite like the visualizations, but I'm not too interested in writing on a new site. I feel inspired to try my hand at making similar visualizations of the commits I make to my wikis (blogs), inspired also by cw and http://composition.al/blog/2017/11/29/the-power-of-blogging-...

Interesting, the UI reminds me of https://flowdash.co/app/about

Whoah what an awesome app. I'll learn a lot from this, thanks for sharing!

Nice! Have seen others comment that they have trouble knowing what to write about. Maybe could add a feature where people can save writing topic ideas. When I'm in a creative mood I have more topics than I can write about, but there are times I don't know what to write

In case anyone is interested in general purpose streaking, I made a website for people to do any kind of creative streak: https://streak.club/

Great job on the site!

I might as well mention that before writing streak I have built a similar habit tracking app for general types of habits:


To offer a different perspective from others, I really like the monochromatic theme of your landing page and its what drew me into reading the rest of the pitch.

this looks pretty cool, i'll give it a shot for a week to help me hit my personal writing goals outside of my professional work.

i'd enjoy it if there were different aesthetic theme presets. the blue one is nice,but for late night writing I'd prefer something that was a deep hue of maroon. black and green or black and white terminal style would be great also.

font control would be nice, too.

you should also add a link to the main menu from the "profile" page, it's hard to navigate back as it is now.

PS: i sent you an email requesting the lifetime membership.

The decreasing health bar looks like a really weird idea. I don't like to be forced into thinking fast, I prefer to make a clear point even if it takes longer.

I've used a more generalized heat map visualization app called everydaycheck.com which I quite like

The metrics and the motivational features are really neat, and well thought out. Kudos!

I like writing pen-in-hand into a notebook on my porch, with a crisp, cold beer on the railing. A cool, soothing breeze passing by. Recollecting what happened each day. Because only computers are for work.

I also prefer writing by hand, but this does bring up a possible feature suggestion for the OP: manual input of your word count, in case you want to use something other than the built-in editor.

I'd buy this if it was a wordpress plugin.

how private this tool is? Can you check my content or data?

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