TOOLS OF MY TRADE: #4 WRITE OR DIE

I’ve mentioned this tool before but it bears repeating. In fact, Dr. Wicked and his evil productivity tool Write or Die were in the dedication of my book RIDE I used it so much to make my deadline for that novel.

You can use the lighter Write or Die online version for free, or buy  the enhanced desktop edition to install on your computer for use offline ($10 and compatible with MAC, PC & Linux). You choose your time limit (or word count) and for the duration chosen you have to continue to type into the window or it starts to “remind” you. Gently at first with flashing colors, then not so gently with horrible audio ranging from cars honking, to babies crying, to the Hansen Brothers singing. Once you start to type again, the annoyances stop too.

I find I can do 500 words easily, usually more, every 15 minutes when using Write or Die. So if I set a 1500 daily wordcount for myself, I can get my work done plus extra with one 48 minute session on Write or Die. IF I can force myself to sit down and actually do it, which I generally fail to do.

The concept is pretty simple–when things pop up literally in the case of email alerts and instant messages in front of your face and demand attention, you stop what you’re doing and run to deal with them. With this program, you simply can’t deal with them, you can’t stop writing for the duration of the time you’ve selected. It’s hard to train ourselves in this age of multi-tasking to believe it but unless there is a baby turning blue in the room with you, everyone else can live without you for 15 minutes, or 30, or 48 (the amount of time Dr. Wicked, the inventor of this tool, recommends).  Turn off the email alerts. Log out of Instant Messenger. JUST for the amount of time you decide. You can go back later. It will be okay. I promise.

The philosophy of timers as motivation is covered here in a blog I stumbled upon but I know from experience, it works. The biggest obstacle I’ve found with using Write or Die is that I feel like I have to go into it armed with words already in my head or I’ll stare at a blank page and fail miserably while it flashes colors and blares obnoxious sounds at me. The other thing is this–the hardest part of being a writer is facing a blank page, and psychologically the Dr Wicked page is exactly that. Perhaps I’ll have to paste in some text to get over it.

Anyway, if you ever do any writing, give it a look see. It might be a fun way to torture your kids into finishing their homework!

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