A freelance writer from Melbourne, I blog at www.littlegirlwithabigpen.wordpress.com
Published July 17th 2011
I lead a very busy life, and I'm sure you do too. When I sit down to write, I do everything I can to make that time as productive as possible; closing browser windows, turning music off, making sure the dishes have been done. Even so, I'm not always as productive as I could be. Write or Die helps this situation.
Don't stop typing, or you'll feel the consequences
Dr Wicked's Write or Die is a writing tool that promises to "put the 'prod' in 'productivity'". This program uses a really simple word-processing interface, similar to NotePad but even more bare-bones. Write or Die adds to this "no-distractions" interface an evil task-master.
The program is literally what the name implies – you can write, or you can die. Choose how long you'd like to write for or a word goal. Then set a 'grace period' ('forgiving', 'strict', or 'evil') and the consequences for not writing – modes range from 'gentle' to 'electric shock mode'. If you don't write for a given amount of time – dictated by your 'grace period' – then you feel the wrath of Write or Die. The screen turns an angry red and your punishment is dealt – screeching violins, crying babies, the word processor deleting your words… Write or Die forces you to write, or else deal with consequences like these. The only way to stop these things from happening is to WRITE!
Write or Die can be used in one of two ways – online, or desktop edition. The online version is free and can be used directly from your internet browser at www.writeordie.com. The website is unfortunately cluttered and a bit confusing at the moment, but in the sidebar on the right there are fields where you can plug in all the program settings. Write or Die opens a document in your browser. All that's there is the text field, "done" and "pause" buttons. And you write. When you finish, hit the "done" button, and Write or Die gives you a bunch of ways to broadcast your productivity, from blog buttons to Facebook and Twitter sharing – "I wrote 200 words in 10 minutes using Write or Die!".
The only real drawback of the online edition is that you have to copy and paste your work into a text document when you're done, and this sometimes messes around with the formatting, but not in a major way.
The desktop edition has all this, plus a bunch of other nifty stuff. "WordWars" allow you to challenge your writing friends to a battle. You get cumulative statistics of how much you've written, how long you've spent on the program, how many words you write in an average session… There are more and more varied consequences. You also have the ability to make the program override everything else it's possible to do on your computer until you've achieved your goal – so no checking Facebook quickly between paragraphs, because you can't get anywhere that's not this word processor. The desktop version of Write or Die also allows you to save the document as a text file.
The desktop edition goes for only $10, which is a whole lot cheaper than any other word processor I've ever heard of. The online edition is free. Both versions of this software will kick your butt into gear.
Oh wow, this may be perfect for a procrastinator like me! Then again, it sounds like I'd end up with everything deleted before my eyes (I tend to get stubborn about putting things off). I should give it a go anyway - you're right, it really is too easy to waste time on Facebook...
Give it a shot, Michaelie... It's helped me with everything from short stories to essays for school. And for free, there's nothing to lose! Though I did buy the desktop edition pretty quickly cuz I love a good gimmick!
Using Write or Die was such fun- never have I used a word processor with so much personality!
However, a drawback that I discovered was that it's difficult to simultaneously research and write using Write or Die, because in the time it takes me to look something up, the last sentence has disappeared :(