Have you ever been stuck with your next blog post, or a letter, or some document you needed to write? That’s the problem that freewritng.com, a project by Andrey Kuzmenko, is trying to solve. It can help you overcome the writer’s block and start with the article draft. It can help you become a better writer by writing regularly. It can also help you clarify your thoughts on any problem you are trying to solve, by putting it in writing.
Free writing means writing down things as quickly as possible without really thinking, for a short amount of time (10-15 minutes). During that time you shouldn’t care about your spelling, grammar, or finding the perfect words. You should write exactly what you think, without judgment or editing. In this case you’ll be able to generate breakthrough ideas and solutions.
How did you come up with this idea?
I created my first blog six years ago. I was a student at the time and had a big passion for writing about the technical things I learned at work. Later I decided to create another blog to share my life experience with others. Blog is a good way to communicate with people I know. In real life it’s hard to meet them often, so I like to write and share certain things in a blog.
At some point I noticed that it takes too much time for me to write a blog post. Also, I left my posts unfinished too often due to the lack of time. After another failure I was upset and wrote on my home blackboard: “I want to write posts faster!”
Three or four months later, on occasion, I bought a book written by Mark Levy, “Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content” (aff.) From that moment, I started to learn the power of free writing. Later I decided to create a free writing service.
What motivated you to work on this?
I want to create something useful for others. I believe that free writing is a powerful technique for self-improvement and I want to show that to people.
What were your qualifications? Did you use your experience, or learn new skills?
I am a software developer. For seven years I have been learning how to write code and nothing about how to start projects. All my project management experience came from my personal projects. At some point I started reading about the Lean Startup (aff.) methodology, watched a course by Steve Blank and bought his two books “The Four Steps to the Epiphany” (aff.) and “The Startup Owners Manual” (aff.)
What was your time budget? How did you allocate it and plan the tasks? What schedule works best for you?
I spent 4-5 hours per working day and a bit more on weekends. My girlfriend Ira does not like that too much, but still supports me. The most complicated thing is to find the time for personal life. If you like what you do, it’s hard to stop.
Did you do everything by yourself, or did you hire help, paid or volunteer? Any advice on this for others?
I do almost all programming work by myself. I have a few friends who are also fans of free writing, and they actively help me with ideas for this project.
I test all new features on Ira. She is a journalist, so the project is very suitable for her.
I am a fan of bootstrapping, so I try to spend as little money as possible. Even hosting is not a problem. Just take a look what is available for free. Two weeks ago Freewritng.com was accept to BizSpark, a Microsoft program that provides free Microsoft products. This saves me $100 every month on Windows Azure.
How did you manage the project? Any specific tools and techniques that others can use?
At the moment I use Trello.com, a collaboration tool that allows me to visualize my tasks as boards.
For a few years we have been using Agile and Scrum at work and for my personal project. I also try to work using one-week iterations. It is not so easy, because of a lot of factors that have influence on schedule but still planning and time boxes are very important.
Any productivity tips to share? Tools, techniques?
A lot of people say that they don’t have time for personal projects. From my point of view if something is really important for you, then time is not a problem. I use a few hours in the morning to work on the project. I like to get up before sunrise, that’s the most productive time in my day. In the evening I can only do some simple tasks, because my brain is tired.
Is your project in active use? Actively supported and extended? Any achievements to boast?
I receive a lot positive feedback about the project and the idea of free writing. Many people show interest in my service, but still for some reason they don’t start using it.
At this moment I work on gamification functionality that will be released soon. I want people to have fun with it.
What were the biggest benefits for you from this project, what brings you the most joy?
Every day the first thing I do in the morning is writing the morning pages. I spend 15 minutes to write about everything that comes to my head. It allows me to clear my mind and to get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day.
Morning pages are like a shower. I like my morning shower, I feel refreshed after it. Shower takes care about my body and morning pages work like a shower for my soul and mind. I believe that my habit to write morning pages is one of the most powerful things for my self-development.
What would you do differently if you could get back in time?
If I had a chance to go back in time I would definitely launch the project earlier. I like to show my work when it is fully finished, but that is not good for startups. As soon as you show something to users you can start receiving feedback, and then you can avoid unnecessary work.
What book would you recommend to someone starting a hobby project?
I recommend to read an inspiring book Rework (aff.), written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the executive team of 37signals. Also I recommend to watch such films as The Social Network (2010) and Moneyball (2011).
What other projects or authors would you like to read about in our interviews?
Artem Serdyuk. I would like to read the story of effectcup.com.
Anything else you would like to add?
Life is short. Follow your passion and do what you love, and you’ll always find time for that.
Feel free to ask Andrey about the details of his project in the comments below.
This post was written by Valentyn Danylchuk, the editor of Five-Hour Projects. You can also publish guest posts here, suggest projects to write about, or get interviewed – contact firstname.lastname@example.org