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How Fear Can Keep You Writing

By December 23, 2010 October 3rd, 2011 Recommendations, Tips & Tricks

As I was searching for tools to help me with my general writing process, I found one that was particularly interesting, and worth sharing. Write or Die is an application that uses negative reinforcement to keep you typing. As long as you continue writing, you’ll be fine… but if you stop, Write or Die starts to get aggressive. As a first step, it will start changing the background color of the window to red. As time passes, the red gets more intense. If you don’t keep typing, and you let it get totally demonic, you will face one of three possible punishments, depending on your settings.

The mildest of these punishments involves a simple pop-up, reminding you to type. Not really significant, as you just click OK and you can continue. The mid-range punishment involves playing very annoying sounds, until you keep typing. This is the default setting, and while fairly effective, it isn’t my favorite. The harshest, and my favorite, is accurately called “Kamikaze mode”. It will cause your text to consume itself until you start typing again. By that, I mean it will start deleting words you’ve typed, starting from the end, working its way to the start. That’s just about as scary as you can get, without deleting the whole document.

Write or Die's online interface

I found this application intriguing enough that I paid 10$ for the desktop edition; however, you don’t have to do that. There is an online version of Write or Die, as seen in the screenshot above. To give it a try, visit the Write or Die homepage, and look for “Write or Die Online” on the right-hand side. Choose your settings, then click “Write!”. The 10$ desktop version runs on Adobe Air, and gives you much more flexibility when it comes to configuration.

Write or Die Desktop Edition

It does have some bugs at the moment, but also introduces interesting ideas, like the ability to have a competitive “word war” against a friend. Essentially, thisĀ involves competing to meet a word count goal within a given time limit. Definitely the kind of creativity I want to support.