FORCEdraft

Forcedraft

A while back, I blogged about WRITE or DIE!, which is a devilish little productivity tool designed to counter writer’s block by making noises, showing horrible images, or even erasing your text if you stop writing. I used it for a while, and I have to admit it works pretty well, but what if you’re someone who prefers to write at a slightly more leisurely pace or just needs a little freedom from distraction? Not everyone is suitable for the breakneck production speeds Write or Die! encourages.

Well, for you, there’s FORCEdraft– which as it says above is literally a program that won’t quit until you’ve reached your goals, and which will lockdown and block access to your entire PC until you reach those goals (or tell it to quit, if you wussed out and used that option). I actually stumbled across it a while ago and downloaded it, but it wasn’t until recently that I started to use it- and boy am I glad I did!

FORCEdraft lets you set a time goal or word-count goal, and keeps everything from distracting you until you reach that goal. Even if you change your mind- too bad! Once it’s running, nothing short of turning off your computer will stop it. I discovered this when I did a test run and realized that it doesn’t automatically stop when you reach your goal, and I didn’t know how to turn it off. I tried every single trick I could think of and the darn thing wouldn’t let me stop it! (In the end, I discovered by accident that you turn it off by clicking on the logo at the top of the screen and then it will save and exit. And it’s saving constantly, so if there was a crash your work would be fine.)

Since that first trying experience, I began using the program and came to like it so much that I added it to my startup programs so it comes on when it boot up my PC. (In menu mode, not writing mode- I’m not that hardcore! Having to write 500 or more words to get access to my PC would be good for productivity, though!) I’ve found I liked it so much I actually donated to the author, and am now using the PRO version which offers a few extra little bells and whistles. (You can change the screen colors, and it has a clock and word counter.)

It would also be great for writers using the Pomodoro Technique, or something similar, as you could set the timer for 25 minutes, do your block, and then set it for the next 25 minute block after you’ve had your break. However, whatever your schedule, I suggest you check it out if you’re looking for something to increase your writing productivity. I love it because I can craft my prose in a stress-free environment, but still know I have goals that I must meet before I can do anything else. (Including check my mail or Facebook!)

Rob

F.Lux

A little while ago I heard about a program called F.Lux on a podcast I was listening to and decided to check it out, here’s the wikipedia entry about it:

f.lux is a computer program developed by Michael and Lorna Herf. It adjusts a computer display’s color temperature according to its location and time of day, based on a user specified set of longitude and latitude geographical coordinates, a ZIP Code, or a city name.

The program was designed to reduce eye strain during nighttime use and to prevent disruption of normal sleep patterns.

So I downloaded it and after a little adjustment, I have to say I like it. Since I work on my screen a lot after dark, I wanted something that will reduce my eyestrain and f.lux seems to do the trick. I haven’t noticed any particular benefits with my sleep patterns, but that may also be because I found the recommended settings a bit too orange and so I increased the blue factor of my screen a little bit above the default.

Still, I’m pretty happy with it. One warning- if you are doing colour-sensitive work you’ll want to disable f.lux while you’re doing that work because the colours won’t look right. Luckily, that just requires a single click to do, so it’s no big deal.

Rob

 

Write…or DIE!

I briefly mentioned it last week in my post on Prepping Your Novel, but I thought I should give the free software Write or Die a little more attention.

Write or Die 2

 

Originally developed for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to help people with reaching their daily word counts, Write or Die 2 is basically a carrot/stick motivator for writers. You set your goals into it, and then if you stop writing for a period of time it will give you negative stimulus like horrible music and images of spiders, or if you have it in positive mode it will play nice music that will fade away and stop playing unless you keep typing. Either way, it’s designed around a Just Do It! philosophy, and meant to keep you dumping the contents of your brain out on the page.

Having played with it for a few weeks now, I have to say that I really like it. I have used it for planning stories, writing stories, and even writing blog posts- in all cases my goal being to just pound out a rough draft and then go back and fix it later. I found it especially helpful when I was brainstorming, because it’s the perfect Freewriting software that literally forces me to just dump my thoughts on the screen for a certain amount of time without stopping. I keep my copy in Kamikaze Mode as well, which means that when I stop typing, it starts to erase vowels from newest to oldest, so I really don’t have a choice but to write and get my words down. I’m not sure if that’s the best mode for writing stories, but for brainstorming it’s amazing. There are also no distractions when you’re using Write or Die, because you can’t afford to check your mail or think about other things- just write. (or die trying!)

In fact, I liked it so much I bought ($20 normally, $15 with discount code) a desktop copy for my PC. I did this for two reasons- the first being that I wanted to support the author and thank him for such a nifty piece of software. The second was more practical, though- you see, I read elsewhere that during NaNoWriMo the free web-based version often goes down due to overload, and I didn’t want anything to keep me from using this tool when I needed it.

So, if you’re a writer, or a wannabe writer, I’d heartily suggest investing in WriteorDie, unless of course you’re the type of writer who’s prone to do this…

Punch Monitor

Then you may want to reconsider.

Rob