I love discovering new ways to keep me focused and on task with my writing. I seem to have this need to switch up the ways in which I keep myself on track once in a while, because for whatever reason, be it schedule changes, new life stressors, or just the start of a new project, I’ll develop an immunity to my old way of doing things and fall off the wagon. Since the start of summer break, I’ve not only fallen off the wagon, but tumbled headfirst off the back end of it, turned a few somersaults in the dirt, and watched, sadly, as the wagon continued on down the road without me. Fortunately, I recently learned about three new (to me) websites/apps that have been helping me catch up to that wagon again and climb back on.
Wow, I really went all out with that wagon thing, didn’t I? What was that?
Ya wanna to know what they are? Yes? Okay.
This website lets you set up project goals using your choice of units (words, chapters, scenes, pages, to-do items, lines, & other), then gives you a progress bar so you can keep track of your, well, progress. It does make you set a deadline, but if you don’t like deadlines, you can pick some far off date like, say, 1/1/2050, and then promptly ignore it. Seems pretty simple, huh? Well there’s more to the site than that. It’s also a semi-social site, where you and your friends can keep each other motivated via encouraging comments (or smack talk, if that’s your thing—whatever works!) and by waging word wars. That’s right! There’s a word sprint system built right into the site. Click on the icon of the running stick figure in the top right menu, and you’ll be able to join a global sprint or start a custom one with your friends. I haven’t tried this feature yet because I just found out about it a few days ago, but apparently you type directly in the browser, and your fellow sprinters will be able to see your word count (and you’ll be able to see theirs) in real time. Better yet, for every 100 words, you earn a star! Stars?! I like stars.
2) Write Track
This is another progress tracker, but it’s different in that it lets you schedule out your writing availability, and calculates each day’s writing goal for you based on how much “weight” you set for each day. For instance, say you have a project due in two months, but you’re going on vacation for a week during that time, and you know you’re not likely to get any writing in because you’ll be super busy scrunching your toes in the sand. You can set the weight for those days to 0, and the tracker will exclude them when it calculates out how many words you’ll need to write each day for the rest of your deadline period. Or say you have less time to write on the weekends than you do during the week, but on Mondays, you have the entire day to yourself to write. You can set Saturdays and Sundays to 50, and set Mondays to 200 (where 100 is an average weight day) and it will calculate half the amount of words for you on each day of the weekend and twice the amount of words for Monday, and adjust the rest to make up for it. These are just examples. You can set your weights to any value that works for you. I set a “10” day once when I knew I’d only have a half an hour or so to write.
So . . . say you skip a day that you hadn’t planned to skip, or you weren’t able to meet your goal. Or say you end up surpassing your goal for a day. There’s a spot to plug in the amount you actually write as well, and the tracker will also use that to adjust your suggested word count for the remaining days until your deadline. This has got to be my favorite feature ever ever ever, because things come up! Sometimes you just can’t write when you want to write, and instead of stressing about having to write double the amount the next day to make up for it, WriteTrack spreads the deficit out among the days you have left. And again, like with My Write Club, you can add friends and share your progress with them to keep each other on track.
This . . . is not a progress tracker. But it is a tool for focusing, which, as I said, is something I’ve been having a lot of trouble doing lately–especially in the summer with the children home all day being noisy and all children-y and stuff, as children are wont to do. OmmWriter combines calming ambient music with calming background “paper” with calming keyboard sounds to keep you calm when you write . . . and less distracted. Sometimes I become anxious when it’s time to sit down in front of my computer and write new words. My mind will freeze up and I won’t know how to put the images in my head onto the paper. Or I’ll find I’m completely stuck as to what I should have my characters do next. So far, every time I’ve turned on OmmWriter, I’ve been able to snap out of that and get words on the page. It’s like the opposite of that other stay-on-task writing software which you’ve probably already heard of, Write-or-Die (which I also find to be quite helpful, depending on my mood). Where Write-or-Die revs you up and keeps you focused by throwing negative consequences at you if you pause in your writing for too long, OmmWriter keeps you focused by calming you down and providing a soothing environment that your attention doesn’t feel the need to wander away from. No timers, no word count requirement, no consequences. If you’ve tried Write-or-Die and found it was too anxiety-inducing for you, I highly suggest you check out OmmWriter instead. Or use both, depending on which method is going to work best for you on any given day.
And there you have it: three writing tools you may not have known about before. Have you discovered anything new-to-you lately as well that you’d like to share? Please tell us about it in the comments!