Write or Die from Dr. Wicked's Writing Lab
November 9, 2008 7:13 AM   Subscribe

When you write, will you pick Gentle, Normal, or Kamakaze mode? - “Write or Die is a web application that encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box. As long as you keep typing, you're fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences.
posted by buriednexttoyou (28 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Electric Shock mode seems to be disabled. Must require a browser plugin...
posted by device55 at 7:32 AM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is awesome. I look forward to the day that electric shock mode is an option, 'cos I might need it... but this is a great start!
posted by NikitaNikita at 7:36 AM on November 9, 2008

Bah. As long as I'm sitting at the computer with my word document open, I'm writing or actively thinking about writing. What I need is an application that punishes me for not ever opening my word files. Like, it denies me access to Metafilter, Facebook, Google, Salon, and the Globe and Mail sites until I write so many words a day.
posted by orange swan at 7:54 AM on November 9, 2008 [12 favorites]

This a really cool little app and the choice of music really does give you incentive to carry on with the writing. I am slightly worried what kind of Pavlovian response is going to be cultivated however.
posted by Don't_deceive_with_belief at 7:57 AM on November 9, 2008

I dunno. I kind of think there is a larger need for an app that forces people to stop and think about what they're writing. I'm just sayin'...
posted by Thorzdad at 8:25 AM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Where's the app that keeps me in the workshop AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER?

(Wait a second! I could install a computer down there and train one of my kids to hit F5 every 10 seconds!)
posted by DU at 8:25 AM on November 9, 2008

What about an app with positive reinforcement? Like if you reach your goal it shows you porn.

I guess this would be silly though, since you don't need to write anything to see that.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:52 AM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yes, how about a game promoting clear, concise writing?


Needless word detected: Omit! Omit! ZZZAP!!!
posted by tss at 9:28 AM on November 9, 2008 [4 favorites]

Normal Mode: If you persistently avoid writing, you will be played a most unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.

...or if you, uh, close the browser window and go do something else.
posted by greenie2600 at 10:07 AM on November 9, 2008

This is really a great idea...especially the kamakaze mode. It really helps me to...Oh crap..gotta go!
posted by UseyurBrain at 10:10 AM on November 9, 2008

orange swan, you would like Temptation Blocker. I'm not sure if it's still available as freeware though.
posted by anthill at 10:27 AM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I do not find the squeaky violins all that unpleasant. I suppose this is a warning that my taste in music is getting bad.
posted by grobstein at 11:18 AM on November 9, 2008

The bolded text made me think that there would be more extreme consequences from the app. Like changing the names of all your saved documents to gibberish. Or opening your email before your eyes and sending humorous forwards in Comic Sans to all your contacts.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:39 AM on November 9, 2008

I'm kind of sceptical as to the possibility of producing quality writing under these sorts of conditions. I gave myself the challenge of producing 500 words in 10 minutes, and this piece of crap was what I came up with:

The beast, vast and silvery, moved through the cold water of the ocean depths like a torpedo. It was a beast resplendent and right beautiful to behold. The bikini-clad lovely, her hefty bosoms bouncing in the gloaming, threw her towel aside and danced erotically on the fine golden sands. "Hey boys", she cried to her smelly hippy companions, "let's get naked and smoke some potweed!" They moved sensually towards her and began to smoke the potweed, their bodies writhing in the sensual dusk of this small American beachside resort. "Hey boys", cried the blonde, socially liberal sexpot with the heavy milksacs, "I'm gonna strip down to my nude birthday suit and take a bracing, invigorating dip in these cold Atlantic waters! Sensual! I'm sure my nipples will become firmly erect!" "Sounds pretty sweet, Rainbowcake Moonchild!", answered her bearded companions, as they moved like sensual wraiths in the fading twilight, beneath the silvery twinkling stars of their Atlantic seaboard location. Rainbowcake Moonchild shimmied out of the confines of her tiny Stars-'n'-Stripes nylon hi-cut bikini. She felt a frisson of sensuality as the cold night air hit her newly-exposed Mount of Venus and her secret lady-lips. She loved to be a nude and sensual hippy, living and loving freely, without a care in the world! Little did she know what waited for her in the cold Atlantic depths of these cold Atlantic waters that lay before her like a sheet of tinfoil in the moonlight, all silver and shimmering with phosphorescent krill, amoebae and other phyto- and zoo-plankton! Rainbowcake Moonchild tripped gaily towards the lapping ocean waters, her large bosoms bounce-bounce-bouncing all the way. She gave a cry of delight as her feet touched the water, and she ran faster into the all-enveloping wavelets. She turned and gestured to her hippyish confreres on the strand, and they cheered her on, waving their beer bottles and their bongs in celebration of her free and womanly ways, and her now magnificently erect areolae and nipple regions. She began to swim with the smooth, precise stroke of one who had attended an exclusive Protestant girls' academy in New Canaan, Connecticut, where swimming lessons were mandatory for girls of every age group, and swimming was also a popular leisure time activity, alongside desultory and timid lesbian explorations in the darkened dorms after matron had called 'lights-out'. Anyway, the great sea-creature, Miggs-like, could smell her womanliness in the cold Atlantic waters, and it was feeling a mite peckish. Its great toothy maw began to flow with shark saliva. Moving its great heavy Roseanne Barr-Arnold type form through the cold Atlantic waters, it moved itself into place under the bobbing hippy chick. Rising up swiftly through the water like a sub-aqueous freight train, it opened its great toothy maw like a magazine cover model. Too late, Rainbowcake felt the waters displacing themselves beneath her. She screamed for help, she was soon sucked under the cold Atlantic waters and gobbled up like a choice piece of well-cooked steak!
posted by ShameSpiral at 11:50 AM on November 9, 2008 [6 favorites]

Yeah, I was pausing for dramatic consideration, and I get "Bananphoned"?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:11 PM on November 9, 2008

I don't know ShameSpiral, I'd like to see someone turn that paragraph of yours into an animated short . . .
posted by jeremias at 12:53 PM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

As opposed, of course, to 'Read or Die!', which is a surprisingly enjoyable anime series.
posted by markkraft at 12:59 PM on November 9, 2008

Pretty much the same as setting an unpleasant screensaver, then? I think that would just get me to walk away from my computer after a while.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:07 PM on November 9, 2008

I didn't come up with a hippy fantasy. I'm a little concerned about what it *does* say about the inside of my head, though: mainly that I appear to be a minimally self-aware Markov chain.
There are a large number of abelian grapes that differentiate between roses and thorns; in spite of their rotundity, their bosonic masses enquire parasitically, thereby creating a gaussian wormhole that perambulates sideways during the latter phase.

Incredibly, those warthog remnants tend to crease and encrust, while gutter-bound phalanges twinkle and display. Starlight that extemporises a dying swan can perhaps be used to whittle the sigma of a dormant nosebleed, seven times before dinner or twice after breakfast providing that no lunch is consumed.

Although it can be demonstrated that greater than seventy percent of banana functions can be integrated via a stem cell route into the spines of depressed giraffes, the same cannot be said of the humble sea-lion. The greater carrying capacity of the giraffe spine can, without doubt, be seen to cause waddling within the sprue, which leads to grammar and crumbs.

Resolving the stickiness requires the application of a gerund, rubbed in counter-clockwise and smoothed to a fine paste with the back of a spackle knife or weed spatula. Egg beaters can be utilised to create a creamy consistency, which is then shot from a cannon onto the deck. A stiff-bristled broom will usually not tie itself in knots, and the halyards can't swim.

Besides the obvious applications, oxidised foxes rock boxes on occasion. The oxidised fox box rocks are glassy and smooth and look nice with a chilled chianti. That stuff about the fava beans is just to throw you off. Radio frequency signals can be channeled through the inclusions by tapping gently with a hammer, leading to ground effects and warbling throughout the nose.

While sprung pedestal japes oscillate in a granular oculus, sine-wave form platters of cheese and bacon grunt loudly over the passing clouds, causing all to pay heed to the blathering of a watery plant.

The grunting escalates, and the founded flange tends to trammel the underlying metaphor of the spoken words; hence, we write, even if it's junk.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 2:17 PM on November 9, 2008

ShameSpiral, I could stand to read a lot more of that. Tell me when you get a book deal.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 4:07 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm actually finding this app... effective.

Thanks, BNTY.
posted by darth_tedious at 5:45 PM on November 9, 2008

I find the "reward" tune for getting to your Word Goal REALLY annoying, much more than the "punishment" sounds for pausing.

Can this be changed or turned off?

I guess the solution is just to set the Word Goal really, really high.

Still, am disappointed that the "reward" is many times worse than the "punishment".
posted by marsha56 at 6:51 PM on November 9, 2008

Does it matter that I saw this on Digg this morning?

posted by swift at 6:59 PM on November 9, 2008

I'd be curious how many mefites write poetry, how many write prose, and how many write narratives. I'd build a competition and submit it to projects, but I'd end up in the ladder.
posted by cmfletcher at 7:22 PM on November 9, 2008

ShameSpiral and others, I think you're missing the value of the app a little bit. It appears to be based on the idea that you have to exercise your "writing muscle" by just writing, writing anything, to get the juices flowing (a recommendation I've seen in several writers' guides).

I don't think this app will make you Tolstoy, but it seems like a reasonable enough way to get you warmed up. That thinking and re-writing business is, according to the "just write" theory, a separate issue, to be done after you're over the hump.
posted by Rykey at 7:45 PM on November 9, 2008

thanks bnty!
posted by ambulance blues at 9:19 PM on November 9, 2008

Oh, that's a great little app! I just love that it cracks open the writing, and it's your task to copy it to a safer location, and fine tune it later on. Sometimes it's just the getting started which is the problem, a bit like getting the sneakers on it all it takes to get a lot of people to the gym or out for a run.

I can imagine that in the context of my research work and writing, it could be really useful to set myself the artitrary task of filling one of these things out as soon as I sit down at my desk, then transferring the writing to a blog or something as a kind of preparatory brain dump. Who knows what might come out of it?

I think it's a great brain storming tool too in that you could just use it to write down as many ideas around a given topic in the time frame, embrace the sheer panic, and then cull and select later.
posted by lottie at 9:32 PM on November 9, 2008

I'm impressed. What says this is a serious writing tool: you can select words and time as you see fit. Feeling like Flaubert? Try for two hours and ten words. Dumas? Two thousand words. At the end of the day, it's all about how many good words you keep.
posted by shetterly at 9:49 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

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