write or die

A friend once told me that her fridge is never so clean as when she’s facing a big assignment. It’s a truth universally acknowledged: Writers procrastinate. And the internet has made it easier than ever before. Now instead of cleaning your house to avoid writing, you can watch that episode of House you missed on Hulu. Or play Word Scramble on Facebook. Or shop for new ballet flats. (Yes, these are real-life examples from last week. OK, yesterday.)

But thanks to the NaNoWriMo forums (which I was surfing when I should have been NaNoing), I’ve discovered an awesome procrastination buster: Write or Die. In this web-based application, you simply type in how long you wish to write uninterrupted, and a word count goal. Then you click the “Write” button, and you’re taken to a screen where you can type. Counters display both the time left and the word count, but the best part is that if too much time passes without typing, the screen changes color and starts making sounds to keep you on task. (A more serious setting will actually start deleting words you’ve written if you pause too long — talk about motivation!)

So often I find that the hardest part is getting started. Once I write a sentence or two, I’m off and it’s easy to keep working. What’s great about this site is you can use it just to get yourself a quick-and-dirty draft. Oh, and if you hate the idea of using a web-based writing program, you can download a desktop version for $10. If anyone gives that a try, please report back!

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