The most dangerous writing app

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a product called “the most dangerous writing app”…

When you read the headline “the most dangerous writing app,” what did you think of? A writing machine that told lies, perhaps? Or one that produced grammatical errors?

In fact, the most dangerous writing app is a piece of software that starts to delete your text whenever you stop writing. I know, let that sink in for a bit….

Horrible as it sounds, however, I think it’s a really good idea. Most of us write far too slowly and spend far too much time thinking, pondering and fretting about the words we’re putting down on the page. As I tell all of my clients, the act of editing — while important — is not so important that you should do it while you’re writing.

Instead, write your crappy first draft and LATER, go and edit it. This “dangerous” writing app will force you to do exactly that by punishing you if you edit while you write.

Another app, Write Or Die, offered by a man who calls himself Dr Wicked, does something similar. It also tracks your productivity (or lack thereof) and punishes you with a loud noise — a car alarm, a crying baby, disco music — if you slow down to think.

Still, I like the breathless simplicity of the most dangerous writing app. By my calculation, it starts to erase after about six seconds of non-writing on your part. Try it and let me know what you think. Thanks to my reader Eleni Palmos (@gkbluestocking) for alerting me to this dastardly app.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on July 10/17.

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