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Tip Tuesday #36

Today's tip was sent in by Deren Hansen. Deren blogs at The Laws of Making. Please give him a visit and consider following. Here's his tip!

Once upon a time computers only displayed text in a soothing shade of green or amber. Then came graphical interfaces will colors, bells, whistles, and all sorts of distractions. Several enterprising developers with retro sensibilities now offer "Distraction-free" editors. While no longer restricting you to green characters, these editors give you nothing but a blank screen and your words. Having an editor in which I could focus entirely on my words has helped me use my limited writing time well.

I use a Windows package called Write Monkey [http://writemonkey.com/]. There are similar packages for the Mac.

Of course, life is ever as simple as it should be and Write Monkey has its drawbacks, most of which come back to the fact that it is a text editor, not a word processor. This means that you get plain double quotes instead of the nice opening and closing quotes that Word supplies as you type. Also, Write Monkey doesn't convert a pair of dashes into an em-dash (again, like Word). I turned this liability into a feature: after writing about a chapter with Write Monkey, I import the text into Word and use the fact that quotes and em-dashes need to be corrected as an excuse to edit the new material.

I have a longer note about Write Monkey on my blog at http://blog.derenhansen.com/2010/04/writing-technology-green-screens.html

Deren, I love the idea of a distraction-free window. It would work really well with the "unplug" hours I've been doing. I think I'll try combining the two. I'm bound to get some writing done then!


Matthew MacNish said...

Love the idea. Not sure if it would work for me as I write with the paragraph function on in word. The one that shows a dot for every space and a P symbol for every paragraph and so forth. This sounds distracting but I've gotten used to it. Not that formatting is anywhere near as important as the language, but as counter intuitive as it sounds having it all displayed like that - for me - allows me not to focus on the formatting.

Anyway just checked out Deren's blog and became a follower. Thanks Casey.

Casey McCormick said...

Thanks for the great comment, Matthew. I think this program would definitely take some getting used to but I'm going to give it a shot. I get distracted sooo easily. : )

C. Michael Fontes said...

I program in plain old text editors all day. When I sit to write, I love the cleanliness of my word processor, although I use Open Office. ;)

Stasia said...

Hi, Casey. I'm just dropping by to say that your website was one of my favorite resources for my agent search. It's particularly helpful in learning about agents without a strong web presence. I signed with Catherine Drayton (one of the agents you featured) a couple of weeks ago and she sold my book to Viking on Friday. I think your blog is awesome! Stasia

Ryan said...

If your interested in a program like this one for Mac, check out Scrivener. It has the full screen function, but it also allows you to create documents with sub-documents, so you can move scenes around. It also has a notecard view and screenwriting software. It's only $40, and well worth it!

cleemckenzie said...

I hear Scrivener is great and since I jumped ship on Windows this year I'm thinking about buying it. So far I love Apple and its Pages. I also love that I'm not interrupted constantly by my virus scan telling me I've just been hacked! Nope, don't miss that at all.

Heather Kelly said...

I could use less distractions, myself. Thanks for the tip!

Tina Laurel Lee said...

I could certainly use less distractions! And nice link! Thanks!

Lisa Nowak said...

Interesting idea, but I kind of like my distractions. :)