Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Give Me Writing, or Give Me Death

Freewriting--we all do it, but do we do it enough? It's one of the most valuable prewriting strategies we have at our disposal, but do we treasure it as much as we ought to? Maybe it's the difficulty sitting down and just spewing words across the page that pulls us away from utilizing freewriting. Or maybe it's the comfort in knowing that we've got no reason to rush; the words will still be there when we lift our pens or take our hands from the keyboard, barring some freak accident in which we lose a computer or notebook.

But say the words weren't there long after you stopped typing or writing. Say the words just deleted themselves out of existence as if you held Ctrl + Z down for a prolonged amount of time. The only way to protect your words is to keep writing. Dawdle too long and some unseen force will gobble up your words like deviled eggs.

Fellow writing consultant Stephen Jefferies brought to my attention the website Write or Die, which brings such a nightmare to life. Designed by "Dr Wicked" (unknown whether he's a medical doctor or just has his PhD), Write or Die offers you a field in which you can write and pray that you stay productive enough that you don't lose your precious letters.

You begin by selecting a Word Goal--the number of words you plan to make it to. Achieve this goal and your words are protected. Then you select a Time Goal--a time limit to beat. Then there are varying consequences: "Gentle Mode," "Normal Mode," "Kamikaze Mode," and "Electric Shock Mode." Then you have three options for "Grace Periods": "Forgiving," "Strict," and "Evil."

"How masochistic!" you exclaim.

"Yes!" I concur, "but with the pain comes reward!" Write or Die essentially lights a fire under your seat; wait too long and you lose everything, and by everything I mean every word you so desperately generated. You have no time to pause, no time to breathe, no time to even blink. Waste too much time and time will waste your words.

If you wish to support Dr Wicked, you can purchase the "Desktop Edition" for $10, or if you'd prefer your torture pro bono you can take advantage of the Write or Die Online option.

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