Given the relative wealth of “distraction-free” writing programs available online, each purports to be unique in promising to deliver the same, basic thing: increased focus on the task at hand. Both the programs themselves and their descriptive pitches enable and frame the act, purpose, and value of writing in different ways. Some are very process-oriented; others are more expressive. Many exhibit stark, monochromatic styles, harkening back to simpler times.
In other words, certain programs invite certain kinds of writers. For instance, Writer for iPad implies concern about "destroying the voice and the organic structure of our original thought." Meanwhile, Ommwriter "believes in making writing a pleasure once again, vindicating the close relationship between writer and paper." Furthermore, WriteRoom "gets your computer out of the way so that you can focus on your work." These programs are pitched and presented more as environments than tools. They are more spaces for us to write from/within and less instruments facilitating the writing process, if it is a process at all.
So, let’s see if any of these programs fulfill their promises. Many are available for free or at minimal cost, so I encourage you to download a couple of the following:
- FocusWriter (Linux/Mac/Windows)
- JDarkroom (Linux/Mac/Windows)
- Marave (Linux)
- Ommwriter (Mac/Windows)
- Q10 (Windows)
- iAWriter (Mac/iPad)
- Writer (internet browser-based)
For the more adventurous among us:
- WriteOrDie (internet browser-based)
- Grandview (Mac)
- Typewriter (Linux/Mac/Windows)
- Momentum Writer (Windows)
To better focus our discussion of and thoughts on distraction-free writing, I'd like for us to complete the following:
Part 1: Experience (blog, Monday, 10.31.11). Describe what it's like to write from/within the space of a distraction-free writing tool. Boot up one of the distraction-free writing tools listed above and write from and of the experience. Is this familiar? Is it foreign? Is it nostalgic? Even romantic? Furthermore, what kind(s) of writing or writer(s) does this tool invite and/or discourage? How does writing via this tool compare to your standard word processor? Think stream-of-consciousness. Whatever form this experiential writing exercise takes is fine, but it should be substantial. Be sure to post it by 2:30PM, Monday, 10.31.11.
Part 2: Application (blog, Wednesday, 11.2.11). Write something else, something more specific within the space of a distraction-free writing tool. Boot up one of the distraction-free writing tools listed above and write about a course-related issue or topic. This can be a creative or a critical piece of writing, but do begin and complete it using one of the distraction-free writing tools listed above. Be sure to post it by 2:30PM, Wednesday, 11.2.11.