The Most Frustrating Writing Webpage
March 1, 2016 9:10 AM   Subscribe

The Most Dangerous Writing App The Most Dangerous Writing App is a webpage / web application that simply deletes everything you have written if you don't keep writing.

You can set time increments for a writing session: 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 or 60 minutes.

If you stop typing the text disappears and a 'You Have Failed' box appears.
And you lose all the writing up to that point.

If you move the cursor backwards to edit something, a 'You have Failed' box appears.
And you lose all the writing up to that point.

Basically if you don't keep the cursor marching across the space and producing text then a 'You have Failed' box appears.
And you lose all the writing up to that point.

This may be just the motivational-focus-orination tool you need, or it might be your idea of writing hell.

Enjoy?
posted by Faintdreams (60 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is amazing.
posted by miyabo at 9:17 AM on March 1, 2016


If you stop typing for more than five seconds, all progress will be lost.

Damn that's some flow right there.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:22 AM on March 1, 2016


Franz Kafka, your publisher is calling.
posted by No Robots at 9:25 AM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


You are allowed to use the backspace key, thank goodness, because correcting typos is ingrained in me.
posted by carmicha at 9:25 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Moving the cursor backwards/editing doesn't seem to kill it for me. Just failing to produce new text (anywhere) for 5 seconds.
posted by edheil at 9:26 AM on March 1, 2016


And you loose all the writing up to that point.

At which point the letters float up and drift off the screen? Or do they just scramble around randomly and turn in to disordered gibberish?
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:26 AM on March 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


This is a really effective way of teaching good writing practice, especially the point that writing and editing are sphinx-like, eternally opposing activities, and must not be attempted simultaneously.

That being said, I don't know if I'd use this to actually write anything. I don't think my nerves could take it.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 9:27 AM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]




Could we please spell "lose" correctly in a post about writing??
posted by mysterious_stranger at 9:34 AM on March 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


gah Dagnabbit! Merciful Mods please correct the spelling ? ::sigh::
posted by Faintdreams at 9:37 AM on March 1, 2016


I use Flowstate daily. Pretty great but I wish you could set the time you want to write for rather than just choose from 3 values.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:38 AM on March 1, 2016


I am panicking just reading the description, which should count as a ringing endorsement.

Anything that torments one into being a better, more skilled person gives me the howling fantods.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:40 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Stressing out a creative person into typing seems like the opposite of flow state.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:43 AM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


Along the lines of a similar writing app, I live Write or Die (you can try it apparently many many times for free).

The "delete what you wrote" if you stop moving seems pointless to me, but whatever works for someone, I guess.

The setting that works for me is the Consequence Mode, which turns the background screen red if you stop typing, and then starts making odd sounds (ranging from songs to screaming babies - augh!). For whatever reason, when I charge up this app and set a timer, it really works to keep my focus for 30 minutes or an hour.

If only I could apply this to the rest of my life. As in, notice I'm here on Metafilter right now, wasting time. If I could only have an app that strats screaming/singing/whatever when I goof off during other times of my life.
posted by Wolfster at 9:44 AM on March 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


Could we please spell "lose" correctly in a post about writing??

Grammar and spelling mistakes are normal. People make them all the time. It tells you nothing about their erudition, education, or intelligence. It's certainly not worth this level of incredulity. Could we not ??

(I'm That Person and I'm okay with that.)
posted by listen, lady at 9:48 AM on March 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


Clarity in written communication is to be cherished and fostered. :)
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:50 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


[Typo fixed. Also yeah, typos are a normal part of life and not worth garment-rending on either side.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:51 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


The most dangerous writing app would also involve Amazon Fresh delivering a rabid wolverine to your door if you fail to meet your deadline.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:56 AM on March 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


A great way to turn writing into a chore as rushed and lifeless as office work.

I never understand why these sorts of "life hacks" are so popular. If you're meant to write, you're writing. You're writing all the time, and you can't really go without writing. If you need to be tricked into writing, or forced into writing, or cajoled or guilt-tripped or rewarded into writing? You're probably not really meant to be a writer. Not everyone gets to be what they aspire to be just because they feel like it's their birthright, or because they dream of nothing else, or I'd be on the US Olympic Curling Team in 2017.

You either write or you don't. No computer required.
posted by sonascope at 10:00 AM on March 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


The most dangerous writing app
I was anticipating some kind of turbo solitaire or an especially engaging fb thing.
Evaporating all you've written if you stop? Well hell if it works then cool - but I know I would just get back to it. It's not the preciousness of the last three minutes of typing it's the tenth pass editing ... But then we're talking dangerous to the developers.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:01 AM on March 1, 2016


You either write or you don't.

I have glasses that help me see and a phone that gets me to places on time and reminds me when I need to say "Happy birthday."

Sometimes all you need is the right tool to overcome an impediment.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:20 AM on March 1, 2016 [15 favorites]


Also, if you type slower than 55 WPM, your keyboard will explode!
posted by cazoo at 10:43 AM on March 1, 2016 [12 favorites]


Is this how season two of Twin Peaks was written?
posted by davebush at 10:55 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy....

Works for me!
posted by jim in austin at 10:57 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Software that doesn't let me open a thesaurus or flip to wikipedia to check a fact is 100% useless to me.
posted by rifflesby at 10:58 AM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


Fascinating concept; worst nightmare. Reminds me of a story Roger Ebert told when writing the script for "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" which was hammered out in a few weeks. His boss, Roger Corman, wanting to monitor Ebert's work (which was defined solely by typing), had him stationed outside his office so that he could hear Ebert's typing. Whenever Ebert would pause to contemplate something, Corman would poke his head out the door and demand "What are you DOING?!" Ebert would reply "I'm just thinking", to which Corman would bellow "WELL STOP DOING THAT AND GET BACK TO WORK!"
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 11:12 AM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


I never understand why these sorts of "life hacks" are so popular. If you're meant to write, you're writing.

It's a lot easier to shop for a software superego than it is to work out a healthily non-displaced internal one. If only someone else would prescribe me the right set of rules, maybe I could finally be the person I wish I were!
posted by RogerB at 11:15 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Self," I thought this morning on the drive into work, "you often find yourself stressing out if you don't reach a state of flow when writing, and then that stress makes your flow worse, which makes your stress even worse. But is there some way you could make it a gazillion times more stressful?"

And lo, the universe has delivered unto me the answer to my question.
posted by sgranade at 11:19 AM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


If only someone else would prescribe me the right set of rules, maybe I could finally be the person I wish I were!

There may be some of that going on, but I can see it being used as a stream-of-consciousness practice tool, as opposed to an artificial replacement/crutch for a lack of will.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:24 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I need one of these, but more in the form of one of those galley slave overseers with a bullwhip.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:32 AM on March 1, 2016


Whenever Ebert would pause to contemplate something, Corman would poke his head out the door and demand "What are you DOING?!" Ebert would reply "I'm just thinking", to which Corman would bellow "WELL STOP DOING THAT AND GET BACK TO WORK!"

Pretty hard core. The story is that Sam Goldwyn (I think it was him) hated the schmucks with Underwoods more than any other employees because he could never tell whether they working.
posted by BWA at 11:36 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have glasses that help me see and a phone that gets me to places on time and reminds me when I need to say "Happy birthday."

Sometimes all you need is the right tool to overcome an impediment.


I use a keyboard (manual typewriter or computer) because I'm marginally dysgraphic and my handwriting is squirrelly and I tend to start writing some words in the middle instead of the correct end, which produces a lot of bunched-up weirdness. I use paper because clay tablets are moist and heavy and the cut-and-paste function is terrible. I use Google Calendar to tell me when my bills are due because otherwise I'm always paying late fees because I'm a distracted asshole, and I use Facebook to tell me when birthdays are because I think birthdays are stupid, but normal people seem to like some sort of acknowledgment that they were born at some specific point in time.

Procrastinating instead of writing isn't a disability or a hindrance any more than not speaking when you don't have something to say is a hindrance. It's either poor discipline, which is going to interfere with one's ability to be a writer over the long run, or a lack of ideas, which should be a sign that either you're not meant to be a writer, or you're just not there yet.

But to each their own, I suppose. If having an arbitrary external mechanism interfere with the normal development of the skill set important to writers through threats and punishment works, then by all means. Plus, if it ends up discouraging writers in the process, that's less competition, which is good, too.
posted by sonascope at 11:44 AM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Software that doesn't let me open a thesaurus or flip to wikipedia to check a fact is 100% useless to me.

Nonsense! I used it to write my first article!
posted by Navelgazer at 12:19 PM on March 1, 2016


Not all writing is done in a miraculous burst of inspiration that geysers out from your pure well of desire to be a writer. Not to mention plenty of famous writers have written about their difficulty writing. I'm not sure if I'm meant to be a writer or not, but a rather large number of jobs in modern society require writing.

Sometimes it helps to develop the skill of writing a really, really rough draft, and then editing later. Sometimes I have to write a boring work thing that's easy to do but dull, and why waste my store of self-discipline on that when I can outsource it. Sometimes I find ideas by writing lots of terrible unoriginal things until they appear.
posted by raeka at 12:23 PM on March 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


You just need a good muse...
posted by Segundus at 12:24 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I never understand why these sorts of "life hacks" are so popular. If you're meant to write, you're writing. You're writing all the time, and you can't really go without writing. If you need to be tricked into writing, or forced into writing, or cajoled or guilt-tripped or rewarded into writing? You're probably not really meant to be a writer.

Just because people are good at things doesn't mean they come easy. In fact, the best people in almost any profession have put in a bunch of miserably hard work. Check out these quotes (1 2) from writers who (at least sometimes) hated writing:
"Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives." --James Joyce
"Writing [a novel] is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay." --Flannery O'Connor
"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth." --Kurt Vonnegut
"I hate writing. I love having written.” --Dorothy Parker
The attitude that if something isn't easy, it isn't worth doing is poisonous. It teaches people that essential skills like hard work and resilience aren't useful, and a challenge is a sign that you shouldn't pursue something. It hurts kids and adults alike. It blinds us to the fact that the people who are the best aren't the best because of their inborn skills but rather because they put in hours and hours of the deeply frustrating, challenging practice that is necessary for skill growth.

I'm not saying it's not worth doing if you're not the best, or that every great writer hated writing - but I do think that the attitude that the "right" things should come easy has really hampered my growth in the past and that if this tool helps people who want to write to just keep going, that's awesome.
posted by R a c h e l at 12:29 PM on March 1, 2016 [23 favorites]


You either write or you don't. No computer required.

I have lots of thoughts and ideas bouncing around, and I read voraciously. I don't think I'm entitled to being a writer, but I'd certainly like to at least try writing. Unfortunately, I've been held back by severe anxiety and depression that centers around self-expression in particular. My ADHD doesn't do me any favors either. I compulsively edit as I write, as if I'll be punished or laughed at for an awkward turn of phrase. I often stop writing completely if I can't turn an idea into prose. Sometimes something as simple as a cover letter can reduce me to tears. If I let myself, I could easily spend the whole work day agonizing over a single email. This post itself has already taken an hour for me to write.

I am quite aware of the concept of "shitty first drafts," and the fact that no one needs to see them. I'm even aware that literally no one expects such a high level of writing from me. Despite all the hard work I'm putting into therapy, it doesn't make a difference to my jerk-brain.

But this app creates an artificial urgency, and I could use that to override my compulsions to get the perfect phrase or exact facts with citations on my first draft. When the app forces you to get anything down at all costs, it's only natural that your writing will be a stream of consciousness, and that's ok. It's giving me permission to write badly, because I literally have no other choice.

Sonascope, honestly, I really don't care that you think that I'm not "meant" to be writing, and I don't appreciate that you're deriding a tool that people are using to overcome their weaknesses.
posted by myelin sheath at 12:34 PM on March 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


Mefi's edit window is a proofreader's version of this hell.
posted by srboisvert at 1:44 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Huh. I'm not sure I'd ever, ever use anything like this. In high school I had an english teacher who would begin every year by giving us a journal and every day for five minutes at the beginning of class we would write. Just write, anything, whatever came to our head, just as long as pen or pencil scratched at the paper. It was fun, sometimes stressful, sometimes cathartic. Sometimes I open up a document on my computer, write a whole ton of stuff and delete it immediately afterwards. It helps me sort things out in my mind, like pulling all my books off of my bookshelf and rearranging them. This seems like a really fun tool, I think it would be great for people who are self-conscious about their writing. Just sit them down and be like "nothing on here matters. Your words here are just air, it's an etch-a-sketch not a marble slab."

Sonascope, the act of writing itself is not a competition. It means something different to everyone. Some people write every single day without pause, some people write every week or month, some people can only write in coffee shops or only when they're miserable or only if they're wearing their writing socks (they have dinosaurs on them and need to be darned). You talk about normal development of the skill set as if this program is teaching them words or grammar or structure and it's like, this is not that.

I think it's really sad that you're actively cheering on discouraging people from writing, I think that's callous. (P.S. I am sorry that you didn't make the Olympic Curling Team).
posted by Neronomius at 1:54 PM on March 1, 2016 [9 favorites]


Go to a garage sale and buy a Pentium 2 desktop. Ideally, one that makes a weird whining sound near the power supply.

It's too slow to render modern websites, and Windows ME will crash and destroy your work if you aren't working and saving all the time.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:05 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Sometimes I find ideas by writing lots of terrible unoriginal things until they appear."

This is exactly my experience as well. I view it like mining: sometimes you find gold in the river, sometimes you have to dig through 30 feet of rock. The most important thing is often to just keep writing. Even when you're uninspired, or sloppy, or feel for some reason that your permission to be a Writer has been revoked.

A Writer is someone who writes. That's it. That's how the verb got nound. The writing doesn't have to be good to be real. Expecting to only write amazing, inspired, important stuff is as ridiculous as expecting a mountain to be made of solid gold.

I'm starting to see the appeal of this thing even more. It allows you to write for no other reason. It's extremely low-inertia. You just write, and you only have to deal with the consequences of writing is if you care enough to hit the time limit. It's like an etch-a-sketch that saves all your favourite drawings.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 2:08 PM on March 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think lifehacks are dumb when they're pitched as your sole motivation. However, they are useful for getting around akrasia, the state where you know what you should be doing and you want to do it, but can't bring yourself to do it.

For example, I'm a fan of the pomodoro technique, but I'll often forget the clock after a while and just start working consistently because the trick was enough to get me started and in the right mindset.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:09 PM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also every creative activity (really, anything worth doing period) inevitably involves some amount of tedious scut work that nobody in their right mind actually wants to do for its own sake. That's why there's a proliferation of these silly life hacks to get people over the hump.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:13 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Now that we have turned the Thomas Disch story The Squirrel Cage into reality, it's time for the Internet of Things people to get to work on The Brave Little Toaster. Or maybe next up is Camp Concentration.
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:20 PM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's a joke, guys. No one who writes for a living or even a partial living would have something that destroys their product if the doorbell rings.

I think it's simply that far more people want to be writers than actually want to write.

I write a huge amount, though I never write non-fiction. It'd never cross my mind to use this, simply because I often stop and think, and I like to be relaxed when I do fun and productive things.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:25 PM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


The attitude that if something isn't easy, it isn't worth doing is poisonous.

Of course, that's not remotely what I've said, but by all means jump straight to sputtering accusatory outrage instead of considering any alternative way of unpacking "you either write or you don't" into something other than an odious assault on beautiful dreams. It's real simple—if you're a writer, you're writing. If you're not writing, you might be some other kind of storyteller, but writers write. It's in the job title.

As I also said, if it works for you to treat writing like some sort of inverted aversion therapy, by all means, go ahead. If you manage to get through it without it coloring your writing, that's wonderful, and if you give up writing because using fear to make you write is as ridiculous as using fear for...well...any sort of positive reinforcement, it'll serve to lighten the load in submissions departments everywhere so other people can have their work considered.

I think it's really sad that you're actively cheering on discouraging people from writing, I think that's callous.

I'm not discouraging anyone from writing. If you're writing, you're writing. If you're talking about writing and researching about writing and trying out apps about writing and conceptualizing about writing and looking for the holy hidden secret to writing (hint: the secret to writing is to write) instead of writing, you're being a fan of writing, or maybe a writing teacher, not a writer. There's nothing wrong with that, either, if you're honest about what you're doing. Where's the discouragement? What I do find worthy of comment is that the world of writing encouragement is packed with gimmicks and "one weird trick" someone discovered that's going to magically fix the thing that's stopping you from writing when the thing stopping you from writing is that you're not writing. If you're not writing because the sky is grey or the room is too warm or your sweater itches or the dog is giving you a funny look or your back hurts or your keyboard sucks or you can't find your keys or you're having a rough relationship or you need a drink or the wall you're looking at is the wrong shade of blue or a bird keeps flying past your window or someone set off their smoke detector in the next apartment or your friend has cancer or the phone keeps ringing or you don't like your word processor or the table is a little too high or something good is on TV or the dog needs a walk or you're having tummy troubles or anything anything anything, you are not writing. The world will always, always be tugging at your sleeve.

So write! It's hard, which is why so few people succeed at it, and easy, because you have stories to tell.

But I'd ask this of anyone who's so incensed that I have the gall to doubt that a "tool" that threatens to destroy your work is going to be a rational motivator—can anyone cite a few examples of writers pointing out not the obvious detail that writing is difficult for some writers, but rather describing a similar situation of a threat being levied and how it motivated them to produce good work? I mean, as a lifelong fan of one of the least prolific writers of all time, Douglas Adams, I'd have loved it if someone had waterboarded at least one more book out of the guy, but would that really have worked? Would a book wrenched out by force not carry the stink of that coercion?

Sonascope, honestly, I really don't care that you think that I'm not "meant" to be writing, and I don't appreciate that you're deriding a tool that people are using to overcome their weaknesses.

I'm amused that you think that my reservations about this writing "tool" are about you, not least of which because the world of diversity in writing approaches that you seem to want to celebrate should also include some level of respect for dissent on the subject, and I'm sorry you don't "appreciate" a disagreement about tools that also has nothing at all to do with you as a person, because I honestly don't know a single thing about you, but I hope you do write, and that you write your best work, which is the thing that defines the difference between someone who wants to be a writer and someone who is a writer. Being "meant" to be a writer comes down to whether you write or you don't write. If this little web app is the thing that kickstarts your writing, feel free to blow me a well-deserved raspberry down the line, and I'll happily raise a Parisette in your direction by means of mea culpa.

P.S. Lest I be regarded as someone with no truck with positive reinforcement, if one has trouble with self-editing in the writing process, in my experience as someone who was beat down by public school before modern diagnoses of attention issues even existed, to the point that I spent two grades in special education because that boy just ain't right, a manual typewriter is an amazing first draft tool. No internet distractions, your hands get stronger from the work, the process trains you to build your sentences in you head, which means you can be writing while you're standing around waiting for the bus, and the fact that you must retype the whole thing into a computer for editing means your writing gets a detailed reading between revisions that catches an astonishing number of errors. Plus, when you're an award-winning writer on a national scale, you can sell off your marked-up, dog-eared original manuscripts to your fans when you need money to renovate the kitchen.

Also, trying reading everything you've just written out loud, because your ear will catch things your eye won't.

Go write something.
posted by sonascope at 5:37 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you need to be tricked into writing, or forced into writing, or cajoled or guilt-tripped or rewarded into writing? You're probably not really meant to be a writer.

I literally LOL'd at this hogwash. Have you never read any interviews with writers? Many great writers hate writing and do what they can to avoid doing it. Great writers have been guilt-tripping, cajoling, and forcing themselves to write for as long as there's been language.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:51 PM on March 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


I have to write a bio for something, which is like the worst kind of writing -- writing about myself. So I thought I'd try this, but even at 5 minutes, that was more time than the actual writing of 150 words required, so now my bio ends like this:

All of this is already on her resume, so she has no idea why you would want to read it again in a bio, but there it is. Now she's just padding it out with more stuff, because if she stops writing she is going to lose this draft and she has another 36 seconds to go in this writing session. She is getting a bit tired of referring to herself in the third person, as well. It's like writing facebook statuses in 2007, before they took away the 'is' from the prompts, the bastards.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:58 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Replacing "creative writing" with any other sort of activity and nobody would ever think of wanting this. It deletes your code if you don't keep coding. It deletes your emails if you don't keep typing. It deletes your painting if you don't keep painting.

This is inspiration for people to write drek that nobody wants to read or write. Maybe in ebook format.
posted by destro at 7:07 PM on March 1, 2016


Sigh. And then because I forgot to copy it out of that page before I closed the tab, I lost it anyway.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:09 PM on March 1, 2016


Hell, thank you. This isn't how I write, especially now that I'm frigging trying to do a second version of a second draft. But it wasn't how I wrote a 90,000 word first draft in ten months, either.
posted by lhauser at 8:54 PM on March 1, 2016


Replacing "creative writing" with any other sort of activity and nobody would ever think of wanting this. It deletes your code if you don't keep coding. It deletes your emails if you don't keep typing. It deletes your painting if you don't keep painting.


Completely untrue. Learning how to draw is a good comparison. New artists often painstakingly redraw the same lines over and over. Teachers of new artists often have them do hundreds of 30-second or one-minute sketches to break them of the habit. Those sketches are generally crap never destined for a museum, but serve a vital purpose. I'm sure my current instructor would love for us to use a program that erased what we did if we stopped drawing for five seconds. He's forever yelling at us "Faster! Faster! No lines! Tone!"

posted by greermahoney at 9:14 PM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


Hell, thank you. This isn't how I write, especially now that I'm frigging trying to do a second version of a second draft. But it wasn't how I wrote a 90,000 word first draft in ten months, either.

I would think writers would use this more for writing exercises, rather than novels. I can see this being used as a warm-up tool to get you in the habit of writing without stalling or significant editing, and then move on to "real" work after a set amount of time. *shrug* I don't write, but I have friends who do, and they certainly struggle with finishing rather then constant editing. They found NanoWrimo helpful in a similar way. No editing allowed.
posted by greermahoney at 10:14 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have an idea for a texting app. If you stop writing for more than N seconds, it sends the text.
posted by scose at 11:25 PM on March 1, 2016


I think it's very interesting how people are decrying this as not being useful for novels or long-form, permanent things and therefore not being useful for anything at all which is not at all what this tool is meant for. It is not pretending to be that. I wonder how many of you decrying this actually tried it. I did it for five minutes and I won. It was a blast. My heart raced, I got really stressed out, I made a million and half typos and was terrified of going back and correcting them. It told me "Win! Retry?" and that's it. Not "would you like to save this as document so you can look through it later." It's just for fun.

sonascope. I'm sorry, I misread you. You want less competition. And if people just stop writing that means that there's less competition, which is the thing that you said you want. I definitely misread that as you encouraging people to give up writing. Also, if you're a writer, you write. That's it, that's all it means. You are a writer if you write once a month, once a year, if you only write after your cat attacks your ankles. There are articles that have discussed about how useful boredom is for creative work. I know that John Cleese discussed it. Sometimes you need to not be writing in order to write. You seem to have a very prescriptive idea of what a Writer/writer is.

Have you ever read Margaret Atwood's On Writers and Writing? I think you might get a lot out of it (I absolutely did). I don't think that anyone here thinks you have an issue with positive reinforcement, it's the way that you're coming across which is simultaneously dismissive and condescending that people are having an issue with. (Not that I'm trying to speak for anyone else).
posted by Neronomius at 12:29 AM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


as far as i can see nobody here has used this tool to write a comnment for this thread, which i would have thought was an obvious thing to do, so i thought i'd give it a go. i'm so terrofied of losing even a single line that I'm not even stopping to hit caps for the beginnign of sentences. or even looking up at the screen to see if i've made a string of typoes like when you start typing from the ewrong letter and the whole lin eis gobbledigpok/ oh my god that sentence probably reads awafully and i can't even look at it or i'll run out of time and kablooey the whole thing will be gone. this reminds me of the one time i did lose a whole day's worth of typing back in the bad old days of less stable desktop compyetrs. transcribed a long inetrview, which took me several hours, and so,ething went wrong somewhere and i lost the lot. the agony. after that i had a ruthless backup regime that ,eant i enver again lost a day's wrk, or even more than an hours (man, i'm terrified of looking at how typo-foilled this is now), and whenever i type something into a web form (like a mefi comment) i paste it into a BBEDit document too (phew. got away with a caps there... plus i also just insticntively hit backspace and it doesn't seem to have deleted te whole thing, thank god). anyway, the whole act of typing online is terrifyin gif you ask me, so many chance sot lose whatever it was that you were trying to capture, and yet the act of capturing it also causes the thoguths to fulleter out of your head... i don't know if i can even emeber the stuff i started writing here, habve yo ever had to retype an entire comment or an entire piece from memory minutes after it wa acceidentally deletd? it's awful, awful, and it looks as if i'm about to pass the five minute mark, man, this is exhausting but i'm going to make it yes i am.
posted by rory at 6:54 AM on March 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Actual experience of terror exaggerated for comic effect. But it is a little nerve-racking.

*Resists urge to use five-minute edit window to fix all the typos.*
posted by rory at 6:55 AM on March 2, 2016


So - a cursory glance at this thread and I'm not seeing the first obvious thing that came to my mind.

Speed + Ticking Time Bomb.

Hold someone hostage, attach a nuke to the "Delete" code, force them to type, type type... And if they don't?

KABOOM! AN ENTIRE CITY DESTROYED.
posted by symbioid at 10:33 AM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Bringer Tom: "Now that we have turned the Thomas Disch story The Squirrel Cage into reality, it's time for the Internet of Things people to get to work on The Brave Little Toaster. Or maybe next up is Camp Concentration."

We're already getting uncomfortably close to 334.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:13 PM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sometimes you need to not be writing in order to write.

The amusing irony of this is that that is exactly my process.

I am very rarely "writing," by which I mean typing or handwriting, when I'm writing. I write when I'm walking, when I'm riding a bicycle, when I'm dancing in my underpants with my headphones on, when I'm cooking, when I'm driving a truck, when I'm doing carpentry on a construction site, when I'm sitting, when I'm playing with the dog, when I'm watching a branch drifting in the river, when I'm standing by train tracks, waiting for a coal train to pass, when I'm grocery shopping, when an airplane is tracing a distant line in the blue sky, when I'm sorting a spreadsheet by date, when I'm picking out my favorite pair of socks...and so on. The "writing" of writing, for me, is transcription, but that's just typing, as Capote famously sniffed about On The Road. The hard part is the cerebral puzzlework of building narratives, playing out characters over and over, combining, destroying, rebuilding, abandoning promising starts without clear destinations, and that's something every writer has to do whether they're a romantic traditionalist parked in front of an old typewriter with artfully balled-up pages scattered around the room or a bicycling daydreamer, acting out stories in the head like a film played out in the midst of a calming backstreet wandertime before pedaling home to type out those stories before they fade.

I'm a writer of the Walter Mitty school, because of circumstances that made that work for me and the luck of having the kind of neural arrangement that's conducive to that mode. It's a process borne out of thirty years of necessity as I trained myself to compose stories without having the headroom to pause in doing the mundane bullshit that keeps the lights on, the roof over my head, the truck insured, and the dog fed, and it's why, for me, writing is actually pretty painless. It wasn't painless for all but the part of the last decade of the process, and I had to get through a lot of failures and stress before I sorted out how my process works, but learning to practice an art is not for those who give up easily.

You seem to have a very prescriptive idea of what a Writer/writer is.

And yeah, I am prescriptive when it comes to the end result, in that if a person consistently fails to produce actual written output, that person may not be temperamentally suited to being a writer. One either composes stories that are material in the world outside their head or one doesn't, and the semantics of what constitutes the writing process are inconsequential as long as text appears in a form that can be seen by others. Being full of stories you never share makes you a dreamer, but telling stories to an audience makes you a writer, or performer, or a filmmaker, or a poet, or an artist, or a musician, or some combination of all of those things.

If celebrating a software tool designed to threaten you with the destruction of your work is a good thing, why is it such a bad thing to point out that not writing will do the very same thing to your status as a writer, and wonder why we can't use that as a motivation instead inventing yet another magic bullet? If you stop writing for a few seconds and lose what you've written on some ephemeral web app that'll be gone in six months, how different is that than losing time hoping to be a writer, and planning to be a writer, and preparing to be a writer, and educating oneself on how others practiced being writers, and assuaging one's fears about not writing by quoting all the writers who ever had a hard time writing...while one is not writing? Either way, time and effort is lost. So pick your own poison and write. I have my reservations about digital Rube Goldberg machines that'll metaphorically shoot you in the face if you pause for a moment, but again, I'll happily raise a Parisette from my stained green velvet chair in the slouchy corner of the local grumpy writer bar and acknowledge my concession if it turns out to work.
posted by sonascope at 6:26 AM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


« Older Italians Compare the Arrival of Starbucks to the...   |   Exiled to the 'Man Chair' Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments