May 18, 2022

Do “distraction-free” writing gadgets and apps work?


Julian Lucas provides Betteridge’s Law of Titles illustration today, regarding the writing itself: “Can ‘distraction free’ devices change the way we write? “

I’ve tried “distraction-free” writing apps that encouraged mindfulness, turned off the backspace key, or in a few extreme cases threatened to delete everything if I took my hands off the keyboard (write or die). I later tried coding my own writing tools, a hobby that was as rewarding as it was inefficient. The experiences gradually mingled with a Rube Goldberg literary machine, a faltering assemblage of Scriveners and SimpleTexts that left me perpetually unsure of what I thought I wrote where. Longhand was a luxury I couldn’t afford: Wendell Berry boasted of Harper’s that he didn’t need a computer, because he had a wife, but I was a simple urban freelance writer, whose boyfriend had a job. So I continued the search for word processor Excalibur, a perfect union of consciousness and composition.

A very well written article! Soft but precise: “the focus mode on a device is everything a meditation room in a casino”. If you (like me) are a frequent traveler with all this nonsense, see if you can guess which popular focus writing app Lucas describes as “being trapped in an inspirational quote” and which device he describes as “a console ripped off from the computer. cockpit of a steampunk biplane. ”

At the risk of spoiling the story, I can’t help myself: Lucas’ endgame, after trying all, turned out to be the AlphaSmart.