I write for a variety of sources — technology book publishers, a few magazines, and a couple of blogs (one being the super-awesome GeekDad.com that has the best and coolest editors in the world). And for most of them I do all my original writing in Microsoft Word. I’ve never been able to get another word processor to stick, and given that all of my publishers require chapters in .doc format, using Word is pretty much how things are done. I’ve tried Scrivener… and I like it. I really do! But it just doesn’t lend itself to tech writing IMO. When I have used it (for fiction writing), I’ve found it to have one major drawback that I also experience when using Word. And that drawback is feature-bloat. Let me explain.
When I need to type, I need to type. I need words to flow fast and I need them to hit the screen with as little distraction as possible.
Oh, wait… what’s that little squiggle? A misspelled word? Backspace… backspace… backspace. Fixed.
Oh, wait… that’s a bit of dialogue. Need to go back and fix it with quotes.
Oh, wait… what does this pop-up say? There’s an update that needs to be installed? Sure, go ahead… I need to take a break.
Oh, wait… a little notification just popped up at the bottom of the screen telling me I have a new email message. Let me just check that real fast.
Do you get the idea? Distractions. Buttons, pop-ups, notifications, toolbars, menus… visually, I guess I’m easily distracted while working on my laptop. My handwriting is atrocious, and I’ve tried (and failed) to use a pen and paper to do my writing in the past. Hand cramps and trying to decipher my scratch is no fun. So it’s back to the word processor.
But wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have all those distractions? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a simple little word processor that wouldn’t interrupt my flow and train of thought and just let me get words down on screen? I’ve been told by numerous writer friends that just getting the words down in an early draft is the best method for them, and I know it sure works for me… there’s plenty of time to go back and clean up dialogue, find errors, fix punctuation, and more. Just let me write, Word!!!
Oh, wait… what’s this? A little app for easily-distracted writers? What’s it called? WriteRoom.
Let’s see. WriteRoom presents me with a blank screen and a cursor. No menus. No buttons. No toolbars at the top or bottom. No notifications to interrupt me. Just plain, beautiful text. And non-formatted text, too! This sounds promising.
So, I bought it. (For the Mac only — sorry, Windows users, but check this out.)
And I used it.
And I’ve been using it. I write my draft blog posts with it. I write my chapter drafts with it. I even write the occasional lengthy email message with it because it works (for me) so well.
As you can see, you get a full-screen with no distractions. Just text. The menu is hidden and only appears when you move the pointer to the top of the screen. Notification alerts don’t pop up while the app is running (or, at least, I haven’t had it happen yet). I can create different themes as well, such as disabling the spell-checking feature in my Rough Draft theme so autocorrection/suggestions don’t slow me down. I can export to PDF or save to various different encoding schemes. It even has the ability to read my text to me. And yes, I can change the font, the font size, and even mess with margins and word wrap settings, but I don’t. I like it with the default settings just fine, but feel free to tweak it any way you like… just don’t lose what makes this app so great!
WriteRoom has made a solid impact on my writing in a very positive way. With Word, I’m always using the backspace key to go back and edit on the fly and I’m always finding things to do rather than write (such as opening a browser window when something pops in my head that I want to research — that’s what I call it, but it’s really just procrastination rearing its head). Now, with WriteRoom, I write. And I write. And I write. I don’t stop. I’m finding my word count growing as I worry less about editing right now and concentrate on what’s more important — putting words down.
As I said, there’s plenty of time for editing later. And for that, I’m more than happy to copy-and-paste my words (or, more easily, import it into Word) into my more advanced word processor when I need to apply special formatting for my editors or add links or insert figures.
So, I’m sold. I’m writing this blog post in WriteRoom right now! And I’m amazed at how fast and furious my thoughts flowed from head to fingers to screen. Of course, looking back I can see numerous spelling errors or phrasing that I want to change, but I’ll deal with that in the blog editor screen. (Or I’ll let those super-awesome, super-cool editors fix it for me. Just kidding, guys.)