Thursday, June 07, 2007

It's All There In Black & White (Part 2)

Waaaaay back in May (okay, it was only a week ago), I posted Part 1 to this topic and promised to continue soon with more on tools that are available to help you with distraction free writing. I know you're all on the edge of your seats, so here it is.

I am writing this post in a program called WriteRoom. It's a program designed to provide a distraction free environment for writing. The way this "pure" environment is achieved is very reminiscent of the old WordPerfect days where you have only a blue screen and white text. There are no visible menus or toolbars; it's just you and your text.

I actually like to work with a black screen and green text and pretend I'm Neo trying to hack into the matrix. I also couldn't resist the temptation to set the screen to black and the text to white and type the words: "Want to play a game?".

Another cool feature I tried was "Edit in WriteRoom." This setting is supposed to add a WriteRoom option to your edit menus in all your other programs. You should be able to just type a magic keystroke that triggers a switch to WriteRoom, work with your text sans distractions, and type -s to switch back to your original program and insert all your text. It didn't really work that way for me. It did show up in my services menu but the selections were all grayed-out. Not sure what I did wrong.

WriteRoom has tons of options to let you customize your experience. That's really what this app is all about-controlling your experience. It even gives you the option to use the old-timey block insertion point. Overall, I find it to be a useful program. I have the attention span of a...Oh look, a puppy! What was I saying? Oh, yeah, I can use all the help I can get. If you suffer from hyper-distractability too, you should check it out.

If only it could lock my Apple Mail, hide my TV remote, and mute my kids. Then it would be a complete distraction-free writing solution.
UPDATE: The "Edit in WriteRoom" feature now works in Safari and my other apps. I have restarted my PowerBook since the first attempt to use that feature. I don't know if that's what fixed it or not. If you have trouble getting that item to appear in your edit menus, try restarting your Mac.

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