This GradHacker post was written by Julie Platt, Michigan State University PhD student in Writing and Rhetoric Studies, @AristotleJulep
One of the first things that I tell my first-year writing students at the beginning of the semester is that writing is hard, and that anyone who says it’s easy is a liar. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but as Trent stated in a previous post, writing can be difficult for the even best among us. Here are some more distraction-free writing tools that I’ve found helpful for composing just about anything.
For those marathon writing sessions, you might want to try OmmWriter. OmmWriter’s goal is to immerse you in a Zen-like environment, complete with soothing visuals and audio, in order to increase concentration. OmmWriter may not be appealing to everyone, but for me its customizability and gentle typing sounds make it a pleasing space in which to compose. OmmWriter Dāna I is available to download for free, and Dāna II, which includes additional backgrounds and sounds, is $4.99 in the Mac App Store.
For those writers who find the vastness of the blank page intimidating, there’s Grandview. This OSX app allows you to focus on one word or one sentence at a time, letting the single bit of text fill your entire screen. The words you write are then automatically stored on the clipboard for pasting into whatever application you choose. The Grandview window can be called up at any time with a keyboard shortcut, making it easy for entering ideas on the fly. It’s $4.99 in the Mac App Store.
Real procrastinators (myself included) could definitely benefit from a notorious tool known as Dr. Wicked’s Write Or Die. Available as a free browser-based app, or as a $10 Adobe Air application, Write Or Die encourages reluctant writers to generate text with a number of “punishments.” These punishments, enacted if you idle too long in front of the keyboard, range from progressively turning the screen blood-red, to erasing what you’ve already written. For the edit-crazy, Write Or Die can disable the backspace key. Make sure to listen for the midi fanfare when you finish a writing task on time!
If disabled backspacing appeals to you but Write or Die seems a bridge too far, you might consider the $0.99 OSX app Don’t Look Back. Don’t Look Back is a tiny application that simply disables the backspace and delete keys on your keyboard, forcing you to move forward in any writing application you’re using. In generative sessions, I used to try to remind myself not to edit my writing by taping a tack (!) over the backspace key. Don’t Look Back is a less painful way to get the results that help me.
Hopefully these apps can bring some needed relief to the struggling writers out there!