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.
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…
Then you may want to reconsider.
I just bought Write or Die on your recommendation. I still have my doubts that this will turn out quality writing, but as a chronic editor I can’t see it hurting the first draft too much. Forced focus is a good thing too. I just saw this post after a PD session with writers though and Don Aker nearly said at the same time as this post showed up in my email “Anyone who tells you they write fast its because they don’t do it well. Writing is hard. It’s slow. It’s slogging. I spend all afternoon on two sentences yesterday. That’s how writing works!”
I’ve been using it this week for forced writing. I set my word count goal, and time, and then go to it. It keeps me from checking my mail, social media, or anything else for that length of time, and I try not to go back and edit too much. (Some can’t be helped.) I consider it an exercise in pure writer’s intuition, and just letting it flow without too much thought beyond what word comes next.
So far, this week’s results have been mixed, but it’s helping me produce writing on a very tight schedule. For someone like you, with very limited time because of family commitments, I think you might find it helpful for squeezing in that writing time between life events.
I can see Don Aker’s point, but I’d also say he’s taking a stance that his approach to writing is the only way to produce good prose. To that, I say look how poor the works of Dickens and Dumas are, and they churned out the words as fast as they could because they wanted to eat. We consider them some of the finest writers of history!
I suppose it comes down to whether your goal is workmanlike prose that does its job but is mostly invisible, or more poetic prose where each sentence is a gem of wordsmithing, or someplace in between. I’m still finding out where I sit on that scale, and to me this is another experimental tool in exploring my writing talents.
I agree fully, and for 20 bucks, it’s worth a little experimentation! Thanks for your work on this blog, Rob. It truly is one of the things I look forward most to in my mail! 🙂
One of my Summer projects is to try and update this blog on a regular basis. It’s another way to move away from Facebook for me.