You could have the fanciest word processing app on the market, but as anyone who’s currently working on their NaNoWriMo piece can tell you, it’s often tough to face the blank page and even tougher to keep your thoughts and words going once you’ve started. While it always helps to have an outline, sometimes you need a little more help getting motivated. That’s where these applications and programs all come in — some are silly, some are a little more soothing, but they were all created to get you out of your slump!
1. Writeroom (Mac)
Writeroom is simple and focuses entirely on text. Its full screen keeps you from getting distracted with page layouts or graphs, and its autosave function ensures that you never lose a single letter of your work. There are also a bunch of different customizable themes available for download that might further inspire your creative spirit. Writing a science fiction novel? The Classic Writeroom green font on black background will make you feel like you’re hacking into the Matrix!
We’ve lumped these two programs together because they’re very similar, although most reviewers agree that ZenWriter is the superior of the two. Like Writeroom, both Zen and Omm have full screen, text-centered word processing, but both also incorporate backgrounds and music to heighten the mood. Ommwriter has a small library of background themes and images, while with Zenwriter you can use your own iTunes playlist and pictures to customize the experience. And both have autosave, too!
Cost: Zenwriter is free; Omnwriter is free for the basic version and flexibly priced (meaning you decide what to pay) for the special version, which has more backgrounds, music, and keystrokes.
Some people just aren’t as inspired by soothing music and pretty, calming backgrounds. For those people, there’s Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die, a sort of boot-camp approach to writing that punishes you for perceived laziness. If you take too long typing between words, Write or Die notices and starts to delete words in your text to get you to focus. Some may call it torture; they call “psychologically instilling a fear of not-writing;” we call it highly effective!
Cost: Free for browser version, $4.99 for November (it’s on sale for NaNoWriMo!)
Unlike Write or Die, this in-browser tool rewards you for you work rather than punishing you, and it does so in the only way the internet knows how to — by showing you pictures of cats. Every time you pass 100, 200, 500, or 1000 words, you get a new image of an adorable feline. If you respond better to positive reinforcement (or you just like cute, fuzzy things), this might be the program for you. Just remember to save your work frequently!
This isn’t so much a program for writing as it is a program to keep you from not writing – with Freedom and Self Control, you can block certain time-wasting websites and e-mail accounts for a specific amount of time, while still giving yourself access the important ones. It’s great for people who use the internet as a research tool but who lack the willpower to keep from refreshing Facebook every three minutes.
Cost: Self Control is free, but Freedom costs $10.00
Happy writing! Next week we’ll delve more into the technological aspect of word processing by teaching you about different file types, from PDFs to EPubs and beyond. You won’t want to miss it!