Five Hundred Words

The Public Beta

What is this? What's going on here? is web application which helps people grow in the practice of habitual writing.

At its core, it's really just a calendar and a rich text editor.

It has some basic tagging features, prompts, and for your safety and privacy, saved data is encrypted.

I had the idea when reading Graham Greene's The End of the Affair.

Over twenty years I have probably averaged five hundred words a day for five days a week. I can produce a novel in a year, and that allows time for revision and the correction of the typescript. I have always been very methodical, and when my quota of work is done I break off, even in the middle of a scene.

Graham Greene ended up writing 24 novels.

My friend, with whom I was reading The End of the Affair with, suggested we try writing five hundred words a day—maybe as a New Year's resolution. I liked the idea.

I had heard of, and tried, "morning pages", a concept from Julia Cameron's book, where you write three, hand-written pages, in a stream-of-consciousness style of writing, as soon as you wake up. I did it for a week, but it didn't feel right to me.

So a month ago I started writing five hundred words a day. I started writing them in Google Docs, and right away I felt that 500 words was a really fulfilling, yet achievable amount of writing. But... the process felt clunky. I was making folders, opening new documents, managing dates, trying to figure out some sort of consistent formatting, and it was taking away from the simplicity of just sitting down and writing.

So instead of handwriting, or using Google docs or some other more general solution, I made a website for me and my friend to use.

And now I'm telling more people about it.

How can I use 500 Words a Day?

You can make an account with your email right here.

Your email is required so that you can log in, otherwise your writing won't be able to be saved. It's all free. I'm not paywalling you or collecting emails for advertisements or anything like that.

How do YOU use 500 Words a Day?

As soon as I had the idea to make 500 words a day into a web application, I knew that I would be dogfooding it.

It turns out that I usually write at night. I thought that this habit was going to turn into a morning ritual, but that didn't happen. It's mostly because I tend to take something that I experienced during my day to then turn into 500 words. In the morning I'm usually my most productive self, so I like to get work done at my 9-5.

When I sit down to write, I usually write in one of these three categories:

I use tags to help me keep track of these different types of writings. That way, if I ever want to export all of them I can sift through all of my fantasy writings and paste them into Google Docs or something.

Here's what my dashboard currently looks like.


One of the things that I'm most excited about is the prompts feature.

If I have an idea throughout my day that I think might be able to turn into 500 words, I jot it down in my prompts.

It's sort of like the notes app.

I'm a huge fan of the Notes app on iOS—I use it to jot down ideas which could be turned into lyrics, band names, essays, etc. Fleeting things which I don't want to forget.

For instance, I was listening to a podcast the other day, and they said,

When a maniac is at the door feuding brothers reconcile.

I thought that was such an interesting quote, and so I wrote it down in the prompts section.

Later that day I used that quote to write a scene in my fantasy novel.

Now What?

Well, I'm writing this little blog / announcement so that if people are interested they can start using the application.

I wanted to make it public in time for New Year's resolutions, so here it is. There's still some kinks which need to be worked out, but the app is fully functional. I've been using it for most of December.

If you're interested, sign up right here, today.

- Nick Agliano