I have five minutes to finish this post or my screen will turn red and my laptop will start screaming at me.
I’m not joking.
Today I discovered another precious writing antique (click thusly for the last online writing bandwagon I missed). Here I am, sharing for those fellow authors who overlooked this nasty little tool.
The tool in question is an app downloadable to both PCs and istuff called “Write or Die.” And the name basically sums it up. Its slogan is “Putting the Prod back in Productivity” (I though the Prod was going to stand for “Protestant” – I’ve spent too long in Glasgow).
Write or Die is an attempt to build the ultimate procrastination killer. It works on a very effective piece of psychology, summed up by the app’s website;
“A tangible consequence is more effective than an intangible reward. If I don’t write stories for class, I will receive scorn from my teacher and a bad grade in the class. If I don’t write my own stories I am only disappointing myself… 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.”
I actually came across Write or Die a year or so ago, but filed it under “gimmick” and never got round to using it. I stumbled across again today and thought well, it’s free, and I’ve got 2000 words to get down in the next few hours. Let’s give it a go.
It’s scary as f**k.
The system is simplicity itself. You get a screen with a word count and a timer. You set the number of words you want to hit, and how long you want to take. You hit start. You type like a maniac. The catch is if you stop for any longer than five seconds the screen begins to go red. Five more seconds of inactivity and it starts making any one of an assortment of horrific noises, from klaxons to car alarms to things that sound like shrieking daemon babies.
You can very the length of time before it kicks off, but even the most lenient setting isn’t much more than five seconds. And you don’t want to know what the hardest setting is (okay, so you do. If you remain inactive for too long it starts DELETING YOUR WORDS. This thing is fecking psycho).
Now, Write or Die isn’t a cure-all for procrastination. If you can’t bring yourself to put finger-to-keyboard in the first place then it can’t help you. But as soon as you do overcome the first barrier and start to type, boy does it intimidate you into keeping it up. It’s great for belting out those first drafts. Just remember to copy-paste your work into a Word document before you finish up.
If you’re still doubting the sadistic effectiveness of this little gadget, I can report that earlier, when I was typing in a normal, scream-free Word doc I found myself subconsciously working all the harder, terrified that my laptop would explode if I took a breather. So if the lash on your back motivates you more than the carrot at your snout, give Write or Die a try.