Jobe’s Review of Online Writing Tools

A bonus post! Yay! Wherein Jobe reviews some online writing tools. Yippee!

Tool: WriteorDie is a favorite of mine, and I’ve been a fan since I first discovered both it and Nano in 2011. It’s now in its second iteration and has been upgraded with extra goodies. Back in 2011 I started out using the old online version and then upgraded to the (then-new) $10 for-purchase version. (If you really want to try the old online version, scroll down to where it says ‘web app’ and click ‘write’ or just click here, but it’s really not worth it now that there’s a new online version unless you’re a sucker for nostalgia or just looking for the sparsest of the Spartan.) Today I tried out the new online version. (Just click ‘try.’) I haven’t paid for version two-point-oh yet, but I likely soon will. It’s $20, unless your a teacher, student, or previous buyer (honor system), in which case it’s $15. Definitely worth the buy.

Pros: If you need prodding to keep you on task, this tool is AWESOME. Red oozes angrily onto your screen turning up the heat, followed by loud noises blaring, all just because you stopped typing and didn’t start up again. As soon as you start (enters and spaces don’t count, just characters) the blaring stops and the red calms to a pink and then back to your white screen (or whatever color you’ve programmed it to be). But don’t worry. If nature calls, you can hit ‘pause’ and then ‘resume’ and it won’t eat up any of your goal time.

Cons: In the old for-purchase version, I experienced lag when I hit my word goal that would keep my post-goal writing from showing up onscreen, so I got used to setting a word goal I couldn’t meet within the time frame in order to avoid the lag. Don’t worry, if you crave the victory sound effect, you’ll still get it when you hit the time goal. As for the newest online version, it looks like you can only set it for a max word goal of 1667 (the magic daily goal for Nano-ers) and a max time goal of 30 minutes. If you keep going (you can, it lets you) it’s starts doing something jinky with negative time. Otherwise seems just like the old one but better.

Count: I reached 1546. (Before I got to a stopping point, had to pee, wanted to stretch or got bored. Mileage may vary.)

Tool: ZenWriter. This one came highly recommended from two different writing friends in two different circles, so I’ve got to say that lots of people like it. It has a range of background pictures, fonts, and calming music tracks to choose from, as well as a ‘day’ or ‘night’ selection to make your screen brighter or dimmer. Also fun, you can selected the ‘typewriter’ sound effect if you want to hear yourself type like an old-timer. There’s a free download 15-day trial option or a $17 purchase options.

Pros: I got ideas from the difference background pictures, and I really liked the font options and typing sound effects. This seem silly, but I also appreciated how nice the icon on my desktop looked. I’m probably more likely to click if my eyes are drawn to a well-designed icon.

Cons: You can choose to turn the music off, but I wanted to try it, since it was part of the whole experience. It was waaay too calming and sleepy for me. There weren’t any positive or negative reinforcers at work, so I wrote slowly and overall not very much.

Count: I reached 731.

Tool: WrittenKitten. I found this one while researching tips for Nano, and it’s fairly simple and very easy to use. It’s all online, totally free, open source. And one of its creators, Skud, can be followed on Twitter, if you go in for that sort of thing. You write and it rewards you with cute pictures at regular intervals, pulled from Flickr. You can even specify what cute thing you want to see. No punishments or consequences here, just sweet stuff.

Pros: Adorable, simple, easy, ingenious. Exactly what it claims to be.

Cons: It took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out that you don’t get a kitten for your first 100 words. (I set it to show me a new kitten every 100 words, and I didn’t get my first kitten until I hit 200.) I even tried in two different browsers, but it was really just the 200 thing I had to figure out. Also, I didn’t get a new image for 1300, but it may have been a glitch or simply a random repeat.

Count: I reached 1343.

In my search for online tools that might spur us onward and upward in our pursuit of 50,000 words, I came across this cool article, so next time I’ll review FocusWriter, Keep Writing, and 750 Words.

Stay Tuned!


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