I’ve had a very busy and technologically challenging couple of days. My computer, although still new and shiny, only seems comfortable working at a glacial pace. This, coupled with some social obligations and other project duties, means that writing has been a struggle to fit in.
Yet, somehow, my last three blog-posts have been some of my most in-depth pieces of online content. Against all the odds, writing has been happening alongside living my normal civilian life. The credit, I believe, is owed to two online tools that I have recently discovered.
Before I get into the deets, let me first disclose that my tech-literacy level is that of a luddite (my snail-pace computer and I are well-suited, methinks). I avoided smartphones and touchscreens for as long as I feasibly could before third parties started getting involved, doling out smart devices as presents, and I’m still struggling with social media. My point being, the technical abilities required for these apps are negligible.
I’ve heard writers rave about many an app in my day -Scrivener has come up on countless occasions- but so far nothing has struck a chord with me. I like simplicity. I like the familiar. I like… well, yeah, simplicity. It bears repeating.
No disrespect to Scrivener or any of the other popular online writing aids; I’m sure many of them are simpler than I’m giving them credit for, but thus far, none have suited my highly tailored writing needs.
So you can imagine my surprise when two online resources wandered across my path within fifteen minutes of each other, both free and both remarkably user-friendly. What are the odds?!
The first of these tools is one which has just been utterly refreshing to me in the most unfathomable way, and it’s the one in which I am writing this very blog post.
Writer: The Internet Typewriter
I couldn’t tell you how this resource fell into my lap; I don’t remember what I searched or why I searched it. What I do remember is that this was not what I was looking for, but a fluke ‘ah sure, I may as well look’ click. And boy am I glad I did!
Writer: The Internet Typewriter proclaims itself “the coolest, fastest distraction-free writing app around”. While I don’t know much about the height of coolness, I have to say that ‘fastest’ and ‘distraction-free’ both get check-marks from me.
It was a blank canvas, the simplicity that I had been looking for. If truth be told I wasn’t even aware of how badly I needed a ‘distraction-free’ app. I didn’t think that I was particularly distractible, but since having swapped over to Writer for my writing sessions, my output has increased significantly.
To put it into perspective for you, my earlier blog posts have been averaging about 300-400 words; my last three posts have been much more detailed with overarching narratives, averaging 2,000 words approximately.
I’m not trying to say it’s some sort of magic ‘fix-all’ app; the truth is it might not suit everybody, but for me it’s been incredibly helpful. It feels like slipping away to a secret place to write, where I’m freer to create, unjudged and unwatched. And from there I can choose what the world sees and what it doesn’t.
Of course, this is true with Microsoft Word and all other text softwares as well, but this feels different. My creative work is now completely separated from my college work and all other official business. It’s hidden away, just for me. Like I’m having an affair with my writing.
Disclaimer: once my blog is fully written in Writer I do copy and paste it back into Word for formatting purposes before bringing it into WordPress. I use Writer for the actual production of the blog but all of the editing, or post-production, if you will, gets done elsewhere.
The second resource I want to talk about came from a post I read by The Write Life.
I’ve always thought that I was someone who worked best surrounded by sound. I don’t exactly thrive in my college library, always finding that I’m more productive in the canteen, surrounded by chatter and college student shenanigans. Therefore, when I work, I generally throw on some music to aid my concentration. Of course, I opt for instrumental tracks rather than those with lyrics, because those could wind up more distracting than ambient.
Lately though, I’ve noticed that even the lyric-free music has proven mildly distracting for me… but then I turn it off and the silence is somehow worse. So, what’s a gal to do, eh?
Well, Noisli is a background noise generator (colour too, but I haven’t made use of that feature yet… don’t quite get it, to be honest!), seeking to “improve focus and boost productivity”. Again, so simple to use: you go to the website and from there you’re given options as to what sort of environment you’re trying to create (you don’t even need an account). I always opt for the ‘productivity’ library and then I customise to my heart’s content.
As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy the sounds of the hustle and bustle of my college canteen. Well, Noisli has a similar café ambience (perfect for my caffeinated student brain) as well as many sounds from nature. At the moment my mix of choice is rainfall plus some light thunder sounds, but sometimes I also add in some strong wind and/or fire crackle. I haven’t really dabbled much yet with the night time sounds, but I suspect that my sound mix will be highly dependent on what it is that I’m writing at the time. I’m looking forward to exploring the full range as my writing progresses.
So those are the tools which have helped my blog perform so well over the last week and I highly recommend at least having a look, particularly for writers. And furthermore, particularly if you’re a writer or content creator whose feeling a little mentally cluttered. These resources have helped me to be more mindful and relaxed as I produce my content, and I hope they can help you all do the same.