There are apps galore on the internet. But of the millions of apps, tools, extensions, and plugins available, which ones can help you and not further distract you or worse of all, hinder you in your work?
Ah, those are the issues, aren’t they?
I make it a habit of chasing after new tools I hear about, trying them out, and ferreting away those I don’t think can serve other indie authors or me. It’s not always an easy task. I must confess that in some cases, I learn about new apps, sign up for them, try them out, then a month later forget why they seemed appealing.
That’s life on the ‘net sometimes.
So, yes, I can be distracted by shiny new objects that tantalize newcomers. The temptation can be great sometimes. But I need to remind myself that it’s important to not lose sight of the tools that can really help us versus those that may be pricey and pretty but not necessary.
What follows is a big list of tools I’ve discovered and tested. (I know of even more but this post was growing too long so I had to pare the list down.) You may see some as distractions but what I’ve tried to do is provide a wide enough selection to provide options and appeal to meet the needs of different authors.
Okay, let’s get started on the list.
Is Social Media Distracting You from Your Writing? Try These Tools
Don’t let Pinterest keep you from reaching your daily writing goal. If it is, or if you just can’t seem to get off email or Facebook, try one of these apps.
I read somewhere that Jonathan Franzen obliterated the Ethernet card in his laptop and locked himself in a drab room in order to avoid distractions that would divert his attention away from his manuscript. Think about it. You sit down to write and suddenly you wonder what you should prepare for dinner or which bottle of wine you should purchase when you go to Costco later in the day. If this happens to you, Anti-Social may be the app you need. Basically, this app will block you from your own temptations whenever you’re trying to write. This is how it works. Suppose you want to spend the next three hours writing. Just turn on Anti-Social, schedule it for three hours, and you’ll be blocked from distracting social media websites. Unfortunately, this particular application is only available to Mac users.
Do you lack self-control when you’re on the internet, checking into your LinkedIn groups or joining a Hangout on Google+? When you’re supposed to be writing your next book, do you find yourself sneaking a peek at the latest email you received? You’re not alone. This free application will block you from accessing the websites that distract you the most for a set period of time that you determine. Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites—even if you restart your computer or delete the application. So make sure that you really don’t want to access those sites before you set the timer.
This is a free Chrome extension that will help you to stay more focused on your writing by restricting the amount of time you spend on websites that can absorb too much of your time. Let’s say that you allot yourself one hour on social media per day. This extension will make your designated networks, videos, and games unavailable to you once you’ve used up your time. This may be the perfect app for you.
First, you configure your writing time, word goal, and preferred punishment should your fingers stop typing. Once the setup is complete, you’ll need to type continuously; otherwise, there will be consequences. In case you’re wondering what those consequences might be, here they are:
Gentle Mode: A certain amount of time after you stop writing, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.
Normal Mode: If you persistently avoid writing, you will be played a most unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.
Kamikaze Mode: You will need to keep writing or your work will unwrite itself. That consequence should keep everyone on track.
If you manage to reach your writing goal, you can save your new chapter or blog post to Dropbox, E-mail, Clipboard, or a text file, which is a computer file that only contains text and has no special formatting such as bolded, italicized or underlined text.
A Different Breed of Distraction-Free Writing Apps
Use can use this “markdown editor” application on your PC, iPad, or Mac. With this app, you can write your blog posts on your iPad, review it on your PC, and publish it on WordPress, Tumblr, or Blogger. You can also export directly to Evernote and Dropbox. Basically, markdown creates easy-to-read text, similar to plain text emails, which don’t contain formatting. The lack of formatting makes the text easier to convert to HTML code for your website. And it prevents you from fussing with the formatting options on Microsoft Word.
Calmly Writer (Chrome Web Store)
Are you sometimes distracted by your desire to format your book as you write it? You won’t be able to do that with Calmly Writer. This Chrome extension has a one-time cost of $4.99. Again, with Microsoft Word or even Pages, the potential to start tinkering with formatting is always there. This app is a text editor designed “to focus on what you want to tell, with a simple, unobtrusive and distraction-free interface.”
Use this app on your Mac or Android devices. Similar to OmmWriter, it’s also distraction free. The program has a one-time fee of $9.99. This app is a minimalist text editor for PCs and Macs. It promises to keep you focused on your writing by ridding you from the potential to become distracted by unnecessary formatting. However, there are some features you can add to your manuscript, such as graphs, tables, and images. So, it’s distraction-free with a few possibly distracting features.
This app, which syncs with Macs and PCs, provides a distraction-free writing environment. While using this app, you can change the color of the page, the font, and adjust the ambient music, and keyboard sounds. You can save what you write as a Text File or as a PDF. Once you open your account, start writing and using its features. Pay a one-time fee of $5.99 to start using it. I purchased this app and absolutely love it. Now I say that it’s distraction free because once you’re in OmmWriter, you can’t navigate anywhere without shutting the program down.
With the Right Atmosphere, You Can Be More Creative
Does atmosphere affect our creativity? Of course it does. Try these apps to enhance yours.
According to research, it can be more difficult for some people to be productive in a quiet space. That is why some people can get more writing done in the middle of Starbucks, where people are chatting, ordering lattes, and munching on muffins. This app will create a background of coffee shop sounds to soothe you into your sweet spot of writing. It claims to produce the perfect mix of calm and commotion. This app is available for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac in the iTunes store for $1.99. There are a number of similar apps, or you can simply write your next book at a coffee shop.
Formerly Songza, this program from Google is completely free to use. To find this app, type Google Play Music in your search bar.
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