Getting writing done, with a little bit of cheating

Today, I'm going to break some of my only rules I've developed for writing Cool Tools. Actually, make that three as I kind of tried to never mention the term “Cool Tools”. Just looks weird when you actually put it in there.

First, I was attempting to never feature apps that you couldn't find fairly universally and second, I was trying to keep from getting too niche with my selections.

But, there's a first time for everything, so today I'm going to feature an app that's near and dear to my heart because I think all writers should know about it, WriteRoom.

The display in WriteRoom looks straight out of a Fallout game.I found WriteRoom back in my days at PCWorld of all places, because I was having issues composing with the glut of notifications, pop-ups and bouncing icons that Macs especially, but also PCs are prone to. Since everyone is connected all of the time, and it's hard to keep your sanity, let alone your focus, when you're writing a review, an article or a creative composition, I started looking for distraction reducing solutions.

Thing is, on Mac Word won't go to full screen. And even if you stretch the image, it doesn't fix everything, as icons still bounce into view seemingly, just as you hit your stride.

So, much like Icarus took glue and feathers and called himself a bird, I found an app that took what I lacked (self control) and over-rode it. Enter WriteRoom.

It may not look like much, and honestly, it probably isn't, but it's a full screen black-out writing application that's only on Mac (though I have seen some copy-cats if you hunt long enough, PC-users). It is only mildly customizable, but that's precisely the point. You can change the screen display to a handful of colours and the font too, but you can't change the font midway through a composition. This is a tool to just muscle out those hard to reach thoughts and focus in like a laser on the task at hand.

It may be a bit of a cheat, but the Fallout-looking presentation and full screen black-out-only settings, keep my mind on what I'm writing and not on whether I have new email, some @ replied me on twitter or the newest pictures of kitties hugging kitties.

It's not free and the iOS version is probably worth giving a miss as it kind of misses the point as to why it's useful, but if simplicity is what you like and focus is what you need, WriteRoom is one of those tools that bucks the trend of current gadgets. It does one thing really well and nothing else. It's not a swiss army knife, it's a ginsu. And for that, I love it.

WriteRoom is a $24.99 download from HogBaySoftware and is available on Mac OS X only.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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