Dr Wicked’s Write or Die is an online writing tool that promises to “put the ‘prod’ in ‘productivity'”.
Write or Die enforces the above (“two options”) ultimatum on your writing. You tell Write or Die how long you’d like to write for (from 10 mins up to 2 hours) and how many words you’d like to achieve in that time. You then select your “consequences”, which range from “gentle” to “electric shock mode”, each with its own consequences. Write or Die lets your choose a “grace period” too, (“forgiving”, “strict” or “evil”) which is the amount of time the program allows to pass before there are consequences. Write or Die opens a document in your browser, and then you start writing.
Consequences for not writing are incredibly well thought-out. They encapsulate your worst nightmares. They differ in degrees of malice, from a pop-up telling you to keep writing, to “MMM-Bop” playing, to the program actually deleting your work. It deletes it in a really horrible way too, working backwards, you see your lovely words disappearing – the only way to stop this happening is to start writing again.
These things don’t just happen randomly, there is the grace period you nominated, and then the background screen starts turning red, and then the consequences happen.
I’m great with procrastination. And I’m terrified of a blank page or document. This program battles all these things in one place, stops me from staring out windows or just reading a page or two of whatever is in front of me, or deciding that the dishes simply can’t wait until after I’ve written.
There are also a heap of handy little widgets that Write or Die gives you at the end of your session, along with your stats (eg “I wrote 200 words in 10 minutes”), which you can copy the code for and upload to a blog or facebook or whatever you please.
The only thing the online version of Write or Die doesn’t do is save your work. The website contains a warning to writers, asking them to copy and paste whatever they type in the browser into a document they can save so they don’t lose it.
There is also a desktop edition of Write or Die ($10), which looks like it remedies a lot of the issues of its online counterpart. It works on your desktop, so you can’t access all the tempting things that will stop you from writing in the first place. There are also a heap of customizable entertaining and smart bits n pieces: disabling the backspace button so that the only way is forward; making it impossible to access any windows behind Write or Die; not being able to save your work until you reach your goal; and heap of awesome stats things, one of which links to Twitter so you can wage “#wordwar” against anyone in the Twitterverse who may wish to compete.
While I have a billion things to pay off right now, the next spare $10 I get will be going towards the desktop edition of Dr Wicked’s Write or Die… Until then though, the online version gives me plenty of impetus to write. Or die.