Rediscovering Writing

Jan 14, '10 irl

I've recently gotten back into writing. Since boring high school study halls I've done some writing for fun. I'm easily distracted so it can be difficult for me to focus on anything creative. Over the last two years I've really neglected my writing simply because I'm so distracted with projects and anything shiny nearby. I credit three things with my rediscovery: acceptance of my procrastination, ommwriter, and getting my friends out of town.

I've sat down and hammered out some terms for my procrastination. Anything that doesn't need to get done immediately can be put off to motivate me to do something else that probably should be done. For example, if I need to vacuum I take the time to clean up everything all the piles I made and throw stuff out that I don't need. My last cleaning and vacuuming binge got rid of half of my t-shirts so I finally have space for the shirts I do use. School paper need getting done next? Read stuff for class tomorrow so I don't have to work on that paper. While I put the paper off I end up thinking about it anyway and getting a better paper as a result. According to everything I learned this shouldn't work but it does.

I came across ommwriter a couple weeks ago. (Sorry for you Windows and Linux lovers, it's Mac only) It was the second key in rediscovering my joy of writing. The website has a video of it. Ommwriter is basically a full screen plain text editor. It has very few features. It's main feature, other than only running in fullscreen, is the option for a few different background musics (very trance like stuff) and a few clicky sounds for your keystrokes. I personally don't care for the music and keystroke noise, so I turn them off and run iTunes in the background. The brilliance of ommwriter is it hides everything that could distract me. It's allowed me to focus for hours at a time and if I need a break, I can Cmd+Tab to switch to Safari for some research or iTunes for different music and Ommwriter disappears. When I'm finished with my break, I Cmd+Tab back to Ommwriter and it appears fullscreen. It forces me to choose between writing or being distracted with no middle ground.

One caveat with Ommwriter, it's still a beta program. (As of this post I'm using the Beta 2 version) It's frozen on me twice while I was writing. The freezes are intermittent enough that I can tolerate it for now. There is an auto-save file but it's buried in ~/Library/OmmWriter/OmmWriterBackup.omm for some incomprehensible reason and it's only written to every 3 minutes. (If you're going to have a beta of a program like this you need a seamless autosave.) I've submitted a bug report about the freezing and a feature request for better autosaving.

The final key to my rediscovery of writing was to get rid of my friends for a week. (They're in Texas right now and they'll be back Saturday.) I spent a lot of my time with friends this past year and haven't done much else. Now, I plenty of time to go absolutely insane without them. I've managed to divert some of that into prose. I still want my friends back but I won't mind if their return gets delayed a day. I plan to make time once per week to sit in a coffee shop by myself and spend the evening writing. I better hope I don't pick a place my friends are going to be at. That might be a little distracting.