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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Writing Tools: Write Or Die

I've seen a number of other writers tweet about Write Or Die on Twitter, but I pretty much ignored them. You see I'd used the online version of Write Or Die and I hadn't found it all that helpful. It was long enough ago that I can't remember the whys--and maybe it's been updated since then--but I disliked it enough that I never used it again.

Last weekend, though, things kind of came to a head. I was having so much trouble writing because of how much time I spent over thinking every word. It was to the point of being ridiculous.

I'd heard Write Or Die had a version you downloaded to your desktop, so I decided to check that out. The desktop version allowed me to adjust things like the font and set goals like time or words or both. This looked more promising to me than my previous online experience. The software was only $10, so I decided to give it a try.

It worked.

I managed to fast draft the entire opening chapter to the Proposal I'm working on, around 2100 words and I did it in less than an hour. O_o

Yep, in one hour I managed more production than I had in the previous two weeks. What this program did is force me to disengage my internal critic and just write. I felt better on Sunday afternoon than I have in a long while.

The desktop version runs on Adobe Air so it's compatible with any computer system. In addition to letting me customize the font, I could also pick my own color scheme--I stayed with black text on a white background--and pick my level of prodding. I went with gentle.

In gentle mode, the screen gradually turns red the longer you go without writing. It also turned red when I did too much deleting. I'll admit that frustrated me a bit because I wanted to delete the stuff I didn't like, darn it! Which is, of course, what the program is supposed to stop me from doing. It was largely successful at this goal.

Occasionally, it would also pop up a window in the middle of the screen prodding me to get writing. I think I preferred the red screen prod to this because all I needed to do to get rid of the red was start writing again. The window required closing, which actually was a bit distracting. Fortunately, this didn't happen often.

I'm not a writer that normally fast drafts, especially at the beginning of a story, so the amount of revision work I need to do is daunting. It's worth it, though, because this program did what I needed it to do--it kept my internal critic quiet so I could just write.

I'm giving Write Or Die Desktop version a big thumbs up.

Just in case you're wondering, I bought the software myself.