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Gadgets to help you write

1. The Stopwatch

Writers are notoriously undisciplined and, consequently, always looking for methods and gadgets to trick them into writing. One that I use is a stopwatch. At first I bought a physical stopwatch from a sporting goods store, but now I use a stopwatch widget on my computer. I set a number of hours I want to write each week (usually around twelve) and then divide that up into days (four per day for three days) and then, on those days, I turn the stopwatch on ONLY when I’m writing—not when I’m checking e-mail or making tea or using the bathroom. Other programs/methods/gadgets I’ve used or heard of:

2. Scrivener

Scrivener is a fabulous program that helps you organize all your notes, research, etc. for your book. It takes a little time to learn to use (I downloaded it months ago and still haven’t finished the tutorial), but everyone I know who uses it loves it.

3. NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month, which takes place during the month of November, is a very popular way for people to get words on paper. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, an average of 1,666 words per day. Provided you have an outline, it’s a great way to get the first draft of a novel down. It didn’t work for me (I wrote 45,000 words of crap and then gave up), but a lot of people swear by it.

4. Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die

I haven’t tried this, but I’ve heard great things about it. Apparently, you can choose gentle mode, normal mode, kamikaze mode or electric shock mode, depending on how much you want to be punished when you stop writing. You can disable your backspace for “increased evil” or disable saving to “really crack the whip.” I’m going to try this tonight!


I heard about Stickk from Susan over at Reading, Writing, Living. You set a goal, you set the stakes, you choose a referee, and off you go. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds like a great way to keep any commitment, whether you’re training for a marathon or writing a book.

6. Mac Freedom

I’ve blogged about Freedom before. It’s an application that you can download from the Internet for free that disables your network (Internet, etc.) for an amount of time of your choosing (minimum 10 minutes). If you’re addicted to e-mail, blogs and Twitter like I am, this is a great way to shut out all the distractions and get work done.

7. Self-Control

Self-Control is very much like Freedom, except that it allows you to blacklist certain websites (Facebook, Twitter) that you want to avoid, or whitelist certain websites that you need to access (for research, for example) while you’re writing. It also has a counter, so you know how many minutes are left before you can check your e-mail again.

What is your favorite writing trick, software program or gadget? Which ones work and which ones don’t?

11 comments to Gadgets to help you write

  • writeroom! it doesn't turn off your internet, but it helps you write, distraction free, and i have found it to be helpful, without using Freedom or Self Control.


  • I *WISH* that I could try SCRIVENER but it's only for Mac users. Instead, I downloaded yWriter. It's free, and while not as fancy as SCRIVENER, it is an excellent tool for organizing novels.

  • […] Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me, “Ron, how can I be a better writer?  You’ve got all these posts you do in a day, and I’m not even able to keep a normal blog, let alone keep up the kind of pace you set!  What’s your secret?”  There’s no secret; the way I do the work that I do is by having a lot of discipline.  If you need a little help keeping on track, then Writerland has a list of great computer programs and techniques you can use to get organized, get writing, and get that novel finished. […]

  • haha, when I read "Self-control" I thought you were going to be like "Use your own damn self-control, you lazy good for nothings" or something along those lines. But its a program that does self-control for you. how crazy is that!

  • Education tells us writing is an art. So every individual cannot write an article. How we can write an article. Education improves our writing skills, whenever we will be writing any thinks so we are getting well groom in writing field.

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