Wednesday, August 17, 2016

# On Writing # Post

3 Distraction-Reducing Writing Programs to Boost Your Word Count

On Select Wednesdays, I post tips and strategies for writers. 

by J. Rose Allister

While finding time to write is a struggle for many, keeping focused once the typing begins can be an even bigger challenge. The Internet and other shiny fun lurks behind that open manuscript,  threatening productivity. As such, finding ways to Keep Off the Net is a frequent topic among writers.

There are lots of tips for how to combat Internet distractions, from writing in a No-WiFi zone to resorting to old-school pen and paper. In response, software makers have created programs to help writers get their word counts done in a do-or-die, no-distraction manner.

Here are three programs worth investigating if you're looking for ways to keep your focus on the manuscript.


I'm a big fan of Scrivener for a variety of reasons, some of which I talked about in THIS POST a while back.  Among its many features is a distraction-free mode that I use constantly. Click the full screen arrows while on the main Scrivener screen and your current window will maximize--with a bonus. You can adjust settings to widen/narrow the document typing area, as well as darken the background to black out distractions completely (including the software's own toolbars). While it has its limitations, the no-distraction mode is extremely useful for allowing the writer to focus on the manuscript by cutting out other visual stimulus, including that shiny Internet icon.

Scrivener offers a free trial. You can download it here.
Scrivener in full-screen, no-distraction mode

While Scrivener's distraction blackout might be enough to keep some on task, it's pretty easy to defeat. One press of a button pops the writer back into normal mode, and then it's off to Distraction Land. For those who need a more serious lock-down on Internet use, Cold Turkey Writer may be the way to go.

The options presented when Cold Turkey Writer opens
Open Cold Turkey Writer and you're presented with the screen shown here. Decide whether you want a certain word count or to type for X number of minutes. The program will literally lock your manuscript document on screen until you hit your goal, barring you from accessing anything else. The program autosaves your work as you go in case anything wonky happens, and it also allows a manual save at the end of the session.

Cold Turkey Writer offers full functionality in a free version, or you can pay extra for some extra bells and whistles, like the ability to listen to soundtracks while you work. Get Cold Turkey Writer Here


Write or Die site. Paid version offers more features.
Perhaps the most drastic of measures, Write or Die is part software, part beat-the-clock elimination game. Set up your goal time and word count, then choose either Stimulus, Kamikaze, or (full version) Startle mode. If you stop typing for too long, the first two modes will respond with warnings by turning your screen pink, then red. In an even more dire twist, Kamikaze mode will begin randomly deleting bits of your work once the screen goes red. Startle mode takes the challenge one step farther by removing the color warnings and just deleting work when writing slows down for too long. 

This approach has sparked a love-hate relationship with many writers. Some report greatly increased speed and focus. Others find Kamikaze and Startle modes too stressful, preferring the gentler nudge of Stimulus mode. But if you're really looking for a way to train yourself to to stay on task and limit that easily distracted "squirrel" mentality, Write or Die could be just what you need.

There's a free "try" mode on the Write or Die site that gives you the basics, or buy the full version for added options, such as Startle mode and the ability to adjust the grace period. GET IT HERE.
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J. Rose Allister is the author of more than thirty books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.

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