A Kickstarter project that took the internet by storm, and captured my attention, was the Freewrite (formerly known as the Hemingwrite). This product is basically the spiritual successor to the typewriter in a way that the computer never could be. The Freewrite is designed with a full mechanical keyboard featuring Cherry MX switches, an e-ink screen with front light, and a battery that is expected to last weeks. All of this in a device that supports syncing documents with most popular cloud services over WiFi but allows for none of the other distracting online pastimes like web browsing or email.
What this provides is a perfect machine for a niche market, those who need to be able to create text-based documents anywhere and without distraction. In other words, me and people like me. As I type this article, I have 4 browser tabs open as well as over a dozen programs running, none of which are all that necessary to the article. This is how I work, complaining about procrastination and distraction while allowing myself to be continually distracted by everything that pops up on my screen. As someone who writes for a living, it’s not the ideal workflow. I often find myself hand-writing my work, just to end up distracted during the process of typing in the draft.
Do I honestly think the Freewrite will change the way I write? No. Not completely. I’m very good at being distracted by non-digital things too. I just spent several minutes staring out the window at the snow, completely unaware of the irony of doing so while writing a paragraph about being distracted by technology. But it will prevent the most common distractions I face, and the most destructive ones, the distractions that come while I’m in “the zone” and would otherwise have kept working if the reminder hadn’t popped up in the corner of my screen.
Could I solve my problems without the Freewrite? Sure, I could exercise self-control or turn off the wifi on my computer while I write. Heck, I’m even aware that there are softwares designed to eliminate distractions while you work, but I don’t use them. It feels like giving up in a way that using a device tailor-made for avoiding distraction doesn’t.
Is the Freewrite for everyone? No. But if you found yourself nodding along with the insane contradictions of my post, realizing that you too have trouble writing more than a few paragraphs between Facebook “breaks,” and are likewise unwilling to take any of the logical steps to prevent such behavior, maybe you too are part of the Freewrite’s target audience.
If so, it’s available at the Astrohaus website, shipped worldwide for $499.