How do I force myself to write more freely again?
December 15, 2009 2:05 PM   Subscribe

I've started writing too slow, thinking too much, not imprisoning the editor, etc. I'm looking for an online or osx tool that encourages writing. It might be as simple as a field that asks you to enter x words within y time. I am having trouble shifting my mindset.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer:

my mate swears its the only thing that got her through her MA
posted by runincircles at 2:12 PM on December 15, 2009 [7 favorites]

Do you have WriteRoom? I find the full-screen, distraction-free version to be helpful, as is Scrivener, which allows you to put your ideas on a virtual bulletin board as you build your story. (Both WriteRoom and Scrivener are available for OS X.)

You can also download, say, Minuteur, a free timer app, and create some short writing assignments for yourself. Think about how long it usually takes you to write, say, 100 words. Then pick a topic, any topic. Give yourself five minutes to write 100 words about hands. Don't backspace, don't edit, just write whatever comes to mind.

This is the important part, though: Do it every day. Spend anywhere between five minutes and an hour writing something, anything. It doesn't matter what, and it doesn't matter how good it is. The only way I know of to get past writer's block is to keep working, even if your phrasing seems clunky or just plain feels wrong.

Good luck!
posted by brina at 2:20 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a friend who swears by Scrivener. It primarily helps with organization, but it also includes a full screen mode to block out distractions. Maybe the change of scene will help your mind flow a little better?

Or maybe you should just cover up your screen. You'll really have to do some editing when you're done, but you sure won't be able to do it while you're writing. A Box of Matches is about a character who wakes up every morning to build a fire and write in his diary. He keeps the diary on a laptop with a dimmed screen so it doesn't ruin his night vision, or block his view of the fire, but the added bonus is that he can't see what he's writing.
posted by Hoenikker at 2:34 PM on December 15, 2009

I think it might drive me crazy but I've seen a lot of the writing folks on my Twitter stream raving about Ommwriter lately.
posted by wackybrit at 2:38 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

2nding Scrivener.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:42 PM on December 15, 2009

you might try ommwriter

it's a similar approach to writerooom, less pushy and more inspiration starting/focusing.
But I quite like the whole ambient noise thing.
posted by kall at 2:46 PM on December 15, 2009

Maybe it's just all my browsers, but that site seems to be completely broken. What is it supposed to do?

(As for the other suggestions, I'm a big fan of WriteRoom-style editors, especially for longer texts. Disconnecting from the Internet also helps...)
posted by effbot at 2:52 PM on December 15, 2009

Write or Die (I forked over the $10 for the app, and I would have paid more) got me through National Novel Writing Month.

The premise is this: You write a certain number of words in a set number of minutes, and if you linger too long, it starts to play a screechy violin sound. Or Hanson's "Mmmm-Bop."
posted by purpleclover at 3:21 PM on December 15, 2009

If you're a student, I used to show up at classes 10 minutes early and force myself to write a full paragraph before class started. I got through a lot of papers this way...the paragraphs weren't final draft level good, but they gave me enough to jump off from.

Maybe you could go out for lunch and write a certain amount between ordering and getting your food?
posted by crinklebat at 3:50 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing Write or Die . You set your goal - whether in word count or minutes, and, as purpleclover says, it makes a horrible noise if you stop typing for too long. You can set it to various levels of leniency -- choose kamikaze mode, and not only does it make a loud noise, it starts erasing what you've already written. That shit'll keep you typing. Promise.
posted by collectallfour at 4:21 PM on December 15, 2009

Dr Wicked is having hosting troubles, sadly. Looks like I'll have to wait a couple of days to try out the tools that have been suggested here.
posted by col_pogo at 4:28 PM on December 15, 2009

If you want to choose the app you're focusing on, try Think instead of WriteRoom.
posted by thejoshu at 5:13 PM on December 15, 2009

Response by poster: I'm a scrivener fan. It's great. It's just that it doesn't threaten me. I'll have to try write or die. Thx.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 10:19 AM on December 17, 2009

Try - some of the prompts sound kind of silly, but it gets the creative juices flowing!
posted by LauraJ at 12:34 PM on December 18, 2009

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