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Ommwriter is a text-editor for your wild monkey minds
April 4, 2010 5:50 PM   Subscribe

"Ommwriter is a humble attempt to recapture what technology has snatched away from us today: our capacity to concentrate." It is a full screen text-editing application for Macintosh that plays calming music and little clicking noises as you write. It is both kind of cool and in many ways ridiculous.

Ommwriter is a take on the current trend of full-screen text editors, which have been featured on here previously.
posted by The Devil Tesla (65 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's very visually appealing, but good goddamn would I find those sounds distracting.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:01 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I prefer WriteMonkey, myself. *nixy folks might want to check out PyRoom.
posted by lumensimus at 6:01 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I use Ommwriter and love it. The sounds serve as ways of getting you to focus and ignore other, potentially more distracting sounds.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:02 PM on April 4, 2010


My editor of choice is Sublime Text: it's more of a TextMate alternative for windows and works great for coding, but you can use for no distraction writing too.
posted by darkripper at 6:05 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd never get anything done without SkinnerWriter. If I spend too long looking at Metafilter, it delivers a powerful electrAAAAAAAAAGGGGHHH!!!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:06 PM on April 4, 2010 [17 favorites]


PLEASE TO USE VI.
IT ALL TEXT YOU NEED.
:wq!
posted by clvrmnky at 6:14 PM on April 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


I used it for five seconds and hated it. I use a whole bunch of text apps including Final Draft, BBEdit, Pages, WriteRoom, CopyWrite and, for outlining, OmniOutliner and Novamind. I've used and discarded Mellel, Ommwriter, MS Word and many others.
posted by unSane at 6:15 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, an Ulysses. I use that too.
posted by unSane at 6:16 PM on April 4, 2010


Horrific.
posted by O Blitiri at 6:17 PM on April 4, 2010


I've tried writing with music playing but have found it a distraction, so I wonder whether this will work.

I'm going to give it a whirl, just for fun.
posted by bwg at 6:18 PM on April 4, 2010


I find the ribbon interface in Office 2007 with some live Hendrix quite calming, TYVM.
posted by Lukenlogs at 6:20 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ulysses and WriteRoom are the way to go. Fullscreen writing is like heaven to me, and yes, heaven is that boring to me.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:24 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ommwriter is quite a bit more stylish than WriteMonkey, but the point of these programs is to not get in the way of one's writing. To that end, I find Notepad works pretty well. Or an actual notepad, which you take to the library or lay on your nightstand.

One thing I do like about Ommwriter is the cool backgrounds available. I've had this fantasy recently of getting a new apartment out in the country with a lot of light overlooking an apple orchard or a hillside, with a clean wooden table and a glass of water...oooh yeah, hot sexy writer's fantasy.
posted by boghead at 6:24 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's very visually appealing, but good goddamn would I find those sounds distracting.

It is worth mentioning that you can turn those sounds off.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 6:25 PM on April 4, 2010


typewriter
posted by DU at 6:31 PM on April 4, 2010


Is there one of these for Windows? Everytime I see a fullscreen writing app, it's always for OSX
posted by GilloD at 6:35 PM on April 4, 2010


Anything similar to Ulysses for WinXP?
posted by New England Cultist at 6:36 PM on April 4, 2010


Um. I could get the same effect by, like, using vi while listening to Brian Eno. What's the point? Maybe I don't even like ambient music. Maybe I can only concentrate while listening to black metal. That's why it's so great that my music player and text editor are separate.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:37 PM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


For my fellow linuxatarians , aside from the all powerful vi, there's Textroom. (also available for windorks)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:39 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've tried a few of these, and really like Q10. It's Windows only, but gets extra style points for taking the typing sound effects (which I turn off), from the movie Amélie.
posted by oulipian at 6:45 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure if this post is some kind of advertisement, but it seems that Ommwriter distinguishes itself from the other WriteRoom clones only by having cute buttons and sound effects.

I write a lot, so I just use MacVim in full-screen mode. Vi is free, it's been around since the 1970s (before technology snatched our concentration?), and these WriteRoom things are nowhere close in terms of features. Why have typewriter noises when you can use typewriter-era software?
posted by k. at 6:48 PM on April 4, 2010


Is there one of these for Windows? Everytime I see a fullscreen writing app, it's always for OSX

We got you covered right here.
posted by furtive at 6:49 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The background music sounded like the Commodore 64 Tetris song.

(a little slice of awesome)
posted by furtive at 6:52 PM on April 4, 2010


If anyone feels like just downloading the thing without bothering with the email nonsense, here's a link. For some ungodly reason its ~52mb in size.
posted by metsauce at 6:56 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just looked at the WriteMonkey website, which is fantastic. But it makes me wonder: why do all these programs use fixed-width fonts, which are so hard to read? Is it just typewriter nostalgia, or do some people actually like them?
posted by k. at 6:59 PM on April 4, 2010


I still prefer WriteRoom. My professional writer friends prefer it too. Zero distractions.

I personally find music an unbearable distraction while writing. I find everything, from the pressure of my eyeglasses on my nose, to the aching bunions on my feet, to be an unbearable distraction while writing. To quote Wm. Zinsser, "A writer is inexorably alone with himself."
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:59 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've written more text with pico than any other editor. Going on nearly 20 years now. Pathetic really.
posted by stbalbach at 7:17 PM on April 4, 2010


LyX! For beautiful documents. Then, just hit F11 to fullscreen it and get those toolbars out of the way.

Or, hell, just write it in LaTeX and use any ol' editor you want.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 7:17 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


k., that is easily adjustable from the Preferences menu.
posted by lumensimus at 7:24 PM on April 4, 2010


I adore Scrivener, myself. No typey sounds and music, though. Which I think would drive me absolutely mad. But I haven't tried it yet...
posted by Hildegarde at 7:27 PM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess you mean in WriteMonkey. I don't have it, because don't have Windows. I was just wondering why many programs have fixed-width by default. Vim won't even let you use a regular font.
posted by k. at 7:29 PM on April 4, 2010


I tried Ommwriter a few weeks ago and found it an absolutely maddening writing interface to try doing anything useful in. The same goes for most of the other minimalist "zero distraction" writing apps I've tried — I can't take my mind off the fact that I'm basically writing in a padded room. My creative engines, like Bartertown, are run on the pig shit of mindless distractions. Does it take a little more time to write this way? Maybe, but I haven't driven myself insane in the process.

Speaking of great writing apps, this month I'm channeling my inner Donald Kaufman and writing my first-ever screenplay for ScriptFrenzy. So far I'm getting one hell of a lot of use out of a freeware app called Celtx. It's really only useful for scriptwriting, but since formatting is one of my least favorite things to fiddle with, I love that Celtx auto-sets everything I type into it into the proper screenplay format. There's a bunch of semi-crufty "studio" features that I could take or leave, but at least they don't get in the way of my actual writing process.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:36 PM on April 4, 2010


Oh, and before someone else does so:

Metafilter: Run on the pig shit of mindless distractions.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:37 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's very visually appealing, but good goddamn would I find those sounds distracting.

Oh my god, you think that, but they sound so, so lovely, and it just adds to the whole ambient vibe the thing has. I use OmmWriter for journaling, and some light technical work (not coding, just documentation), and I highly recommend trying it, with type-y sounds on. It does sound crazy, but the whole experience really helps me to relax and getting into the writing.
posted by !Jim at 7:38 PM on April 4, 2010


Write or die is something I swear by, sometimes at.
posted by hellojed at 7:41 PM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Are any of these for Windows? I've enjoyed using Dark Room.
posted by muckster at 7:44 PM on April 4, 2010


I tried this in beta and found it to be more distracting than the combination of WriteRoom and Scrivener's full screen mode I've been using lately. Nice idea, just doesn't work for me.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:49 PM on April 4, 2010


Meh. Needs more Clippy.
posted by felix betachat at 8:14 PM on April 4, 2010


i tried a whole bunch of these fullscreen, zero-distraction text editors. most of them are pretty similar but the biggest thing most of them were lacking was a competent, real-time word count.

textroom (i think) had it but once i hit 1500 words or so the lag between keypress and letters showing up on the screen got ridiculous.

i switched to q10 which works under WINE and does real-time word count without a problem (so far).
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 8:49 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


OO Writer, all the toolbars hidden, full-screen, fonts and background I want in the size and colors I want.

Music, while I'm writing? No thanks. Annoying sounds while I'm writing? My neighbors have that covered, TYVM.

OO Writer just works well for me -- all I want is full-screen, word count, auto-correct misspelled words, look nice. OO does all that, for my needs, which are admittedly different from those of you who've posted in this thread.
posted by dancestoblue at 9:03 PM on April 4, 2010


When I have to write thinky stuff, my favorite concentration-inducing accompaniment is Drone Zone, one of the stations from the always fantastic Soma FM. It works great - no lyrics or beats, and it just keeps going, so I don't have to think about selecting the next thing.

I haven't tried any of the full-screen editors, though. I guess I don't find the interface to whatever software I'm using to be distracting. It's usually Word; sometimes I guess I do put it in draft mode.
posted by dammitjim at 9:21 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Since everyone else is just throwing out random anecdotes, it seems, I shall join in. I like OmmWriter, but I appreciate it for the niche it fills. For not earning my keep from writing, I have to write a goddamned lot.

99% of the time, I do some seriously academic wank-wank boring writing. OmmWriter is not for those times.

However, when I need to get writing and my motor's not turning over and the brain won't work and UGH WHY NO TYPE GOOD NOW, I have often found OW to be incredibly useful. It seems like a bunch of folks are confusing what OW can do with what they need in a writing app; the two don't necessarily correspond.

So, anyways, to add another voice: Scrivener is what I use when I'm in the groove, but OW helps me get into that groove. Your mileage will vary.
posted by barnacles at 9:42 PM on April 4, 2010


Isn't it a little ironic that his idea of recapturing the olden days of simplicity is adding features?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:57 PM on April 4, 2010


Seconding Q10. Words without the whistles.
posted by eeeeeez at 10:31 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


When it said that I was alone with my mind, and then "Let's change the font-type," I was really looking forward to changing the font with my mind.
posted by alona at 1:31 AM on April 5, 2010


Thirding Q10. Set to light-green text against a dark-green background with the typing sound turned off, it's the next best thing to plopping a Wallace and Gromit-style pump on the top of your head and activating the sucking mechanism.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:31 AM on April 5, 2010


waah wahh wahh OSX only blah blah waah
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:49 AM on April 5, 2010


..the biggest thing most of them were lacking was a competent, real-time word count.

Realtime onscreen updates? A blinking distraction. I like how WriteRoom handles this. Hit escape to exit fullscreen/no distractions mode, the word count is on the window title bar. Hit escape to go back to fullscreen.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:19 AM on April 5, 2010


I really like using a 'distraction free' editor, and Ommwriter is the opposite of one, at least until you switch off the cheesy background image, clickety-clackety noises and piss poor ambient muzak.

WriteRoom or Bean do the job without the cruft.

Hit escape to exit fullscreen/no distractions mode, the word count is on the window title bar. Hit escape to go back to fullscreen.

You can also flick the cursor to the bottom left of the fullscreen window to reveal the word/character count (which is less distracting than esc-ing in and out of fullscreen mode, at least if you're on a laptop with a trackpad).
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 8:00 AM on April 5, 2010


I have a strong preference for applying this principle everywhere, so I have everything full-screened by default, with toolbars and scrollbars and whatnot configured to be off. Throw in my preference for light text on a dark background, and most of my computer screens look like they stepped out of 1981.
posted by Zed at 8:22 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


write or die!
posted by stratastar at 9:02 AM on April 5, 2010


I've been trying for years to get my programmer friends to help me with the typewriter program I designed and mocked up. But none of them get it, or worse, start suggesting "features". I think a lot of this has to do with none of them ever having used actual typewriters.

In addition to turning off outside "distractions" I would also love to turn off the distractions inherent in even the most basic text editors. No cut and paste, no delete key. Want to erase a word? backspace and type x's over the offending text. In my experience the limitations and physicality of the typewriter forced you to focus on the task at hand in a way that's lost on the computer.

Whenever I hear of authors who refuse to Give up their typewriters, I get it.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:27 AM on April 5, 2010


I shift around, fidget, fuss and fiddle with writing solutions and environments like a 8 year old who's just drank a whole 2 liter bottle of coke and has fire ants in his pants.

The hardest part is settling the F... down.

I've heard clearing the writing area of distractions and meditating for about 10 mins (some folks use some sound thing or other), but I think I just need someone to stand with a gun to my head for me to do my best work, sometimes.

Anyhoo, it is disappointing the way a lot of the writers are OSX only as someone mentioned above, makes me wonder if I should say fuck it to the Windows environment altogether and jump on an Apple deal-io. YOu know people complain about how closed an OS environment Apple is, but there's no denying if you're creating content the last thing you want to do is worry about updating a driver or finding that missing .dll file or something and next hing you know you've blown an hour on that shit...I've blown an hour or 20 on that shit. Reading the help boards and tooling around in the neither regions of the scary MACHINEKEYS REGISTERS knowing that one wrong integer and you can kiss your computer bye bye.

Seems people on the Apple OS, worry more about and use more energy on the creative stuff itself.

Best, I've been able to do so far (or afford) is an old work thinkpad that I've gutted of everything cept a copy of word. I can get on line in an emergency (like I need to check recent activity on Mefi 20 times an hour), by sticking in an actual wifi card in the old style PCMIA slot and say a Hail MAry and an our Father and configure some cold war era Cisco interface etc...

Anyhow, I like it because it, this old think pad T21, makes a whirring noise, so I think there is something to the supportive noise environment thing. And I try and use Dark Room when I can, as I have this thing for green letters on a black terminal face because it reminds me of my first PINE email client that I loved.


I downloaded Sublime Writer and it looks pretty cool, does anyone know how to format it quickly for double spaced, with paragraph indents?
posted by Skygazer at 10:50 AM on April 5, 2010


Billyfleetwood: Whenever I hear of authors who refuse to Give up their typewriters, I get it.

Add to that list Don Delillo.
posted by Skygazer at 10:53 AM on April 5, 2010


In my experience the limitations and physicality of the typewriter forced you to focus on the task at hand in a way that's lost on the computer.

How would you say a typewriter serves better than paper and pen in this case? I write first drafts of fiction with blank paper and pen, for more or less the reasons you cite... but I'm not clear on why the limitations and physicality of a typewriter would serve one better than the limitations and physicality of handwriting. (And I have used a typewriter; I learned touch-typing on a Selectric, a machine I remain a fan of.) It may be faster, but the slower pace of handwriting is one of the things I consider a feature for this purpose. (This is assuming one's ultimately going to enter it on a computer oneself; if you hand-edit and hire a typist to produce finished copy, then I can see the sense in it.)

(Not trying to argue or convert; just curious about your thinking on the subject, since it's obviously related to mine, though we've reached different conclusions.)
posted by Zed at 11:39 AM on April 5, 2010


Interestingly, I've found that after 5 odd years as a regular blogger, I now write best in blog applications. so much so that i've kept a private blog when i had typepad just to write drafts of articles or reports and then cut/pasted into open office or some such to tweak into a doc or pdf to share. its the linkability that does it for me, allowing for a three dimensional feel to simple text, allowing for layers of meaning and reference.
posted by infini at 1:41 PM on April 5, 2010


i switched to q10 which works under WINE and does real-time word count without a problem (so far).

Thanks for the tip. I like it.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:46 PM on April 5, 2010


How would you say a typewriter serves better than paper and pen in this case?

For some, I would guess a pen and paper would be even better. I have heard of authors who prefer longhand. However, my primary creative outlet is illustration, so with a pen in hand, the urge to doodle is too strong.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:46 PM on April 5, 2010


A young programmer came to the Master brow furrowed.

"Master," he said, "I am troubled. There are many text editors, each with different commands and features. It is impossible to decide which to use."

The Master, sitting crosslegged, did not look up from his keyboard.

"And how would you solve this problem, young programmer?"

The disciple's face lit up.

"Master, I would invent a new text editor, powerful and easy to use, and with all the featu-"

The young programmer got no further for, in one smooth motion, the Master rose and broke his keyboard over his disciple's head.

"I do not wish to learn to use another text editor" he said.

And in that instant the young programmer was enlightened.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:56 PM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


You can also flick the cursor to the bottom left of the [WriteRoom] fullscreen window to reveal the word/character count..

Ooh! I didn't know about that. Thanks a lot! More reasons to love WriteRoom.

BTW, I don't think anyone has mentioned WordStar for Windows. That is the all-time classic, I ran it often in full screen mode, which requires memorizing the commands thoroughly. You almost had to run it in full screen on computers like the Osborne Portable. With a 52x24 character display, the Wordstar menus took about half the screen. Even with today's software, I don't think anyone has created a better system of navigation keys within the regular alphabetic keyboard with no arrows or keypad.

You know, there was a time around 1980, when I used to demo WordStar on a CP/M machine with a fast daisy wheel printer (well, not quite a daisy wheel, an NEC Spinwriter, ooh those were fast). I would crank out a fully formatted sample letter of a single sentence (with macros for the opening and closing) and the time from my first keystroke to finished output averaged 15 seconds (I type really fast). I duplicated this test recently with a powerful Mac and a laser printer, it took 40 seconds. Progress marches on.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:58 PM on April 5, 2010


You know people complain about how closed an OS environment Apple is

I understand where this kind of complaint comes from when it comes to the iPhone/iPod/iPad, but has it really been generalized to OS X? Because I can't see any real basis for that.
posted by weston at 10:13 PM on April 5, 2010


I could get the same effect by, like, using vi while listening to Brian Eno. What's the point? Maybe I don't even like ambient music. Maybe I can only concentrate while listening to black metal.

True story: the two best bands for writing, for me, are Boards of Canada and Electric Wizard.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:32 PM on April 5, 2010


While I see how it could drive most people crazy, I love the clicking sounds ommwriter makes as I type. Anyone know how to make these sounds portable to other programs? So that I click while typing an email, too.
posted by ezola at 3:14 PM on April 7, 2010


BTW, I don't think anyone has mentioned WordStar for Windows.

You might want to check out Joe's Own Editor.

Install it on your Mac with MacPorts and run it as jstar inside a fullscreen iTerm window to get your WordStar mojo back!
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 2:56 PM on April 11, 2010


I could get the same effect by, like, using vi while listening to Brian Eno. What's the point

Buddha Machines are the new Eno, I hear.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 2:59 PM on April 11, 2010


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