Tools for Writers: Write or Die

Write or DieAnother writing tool I use, and which I discovered through NaNoWriMo, is Write or Die. In fact I’m using it to write this post (Remember the old Palmolive ad: You’re soaking in it?).

Write or Die is a program that you can use as a web app or download to your computer (it now has an iPad app as well). When I was trying to meet my daily 1,667 words for NaNo and found that I just wasn’t writing quickly enough — or I had something else to do and needed to really ramp up my output — I’d use this program.

As Dr. Wicked states, “A tangible consequence is more effective than an intangible reward,” and that’s the concept behind this program.  The tagline is also great: “Putting the ‘Prod’ in Productivity.”

Basically, Write or Die gives you a screen for writing, and a number of settings to select. You set your goals: number of words or amount of time or both. You set the “grace period” — the amount of time you can stop writing before “consequences” start to kick in. And you set the severity of the consequences.

You can set gentle pop-up reminders to keep writing. You can have scary music play when you pause for too long. You can have the screen slowly change from white to blood red. And if you set the program to “kamikaze,” and your fingers aren’t clicking on the keys, the program will start to backward delete what you’ve already written. That’s a surefire way to keep those digits moving, even if you’re only typing “the quick red fox jumped over the lazy dog.”

It’s fun, it’s inexpensive ($10), and it’s another tool that helps me get the words out.

I don’t know what Dr. Wicked is doing now, but I think when he came up with this he was working in a coffee shop and trying to write as well. The Doctor and I are definitely simpatico, as these words from his website describe me to a T:

I simply have neither the self-discipline to write consistently on my own nor the capacity for self-deception that would enable me to create artificial deadlines. That is how Write or Die was born.

It’s a fun, simple program and it can make you laugh while also just poking you in the side as you sit there daydreaming and realize your screen has started to turn from white to pink to red. Dammit. I paused to think right there (never a good idea when you’re writing in kamikaze mode), and lost the words “pink to red.” Luckily, I remembered what I was saying.  It can even make you sweat a little, and that burns calories.

NaNoWriMo, Write or Die, and tomorrow, 750 Words.

Keep writing (and live).

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