This essay was written by Joel Okimoto. (No affiliate links were used.)
The words “distraction free writing” often get banded around these days when it comes to professional writing, or writing for a living. A simple space where you can write what you want without all the “useless” features of Microsoft Word (for instance).
Distraction free writing applications are basically simple tools which offer the ability to write what you want, and nothing else. They offer you a page to type on, and that’s pretty much it. No clipart, no inserting of tables or graphs or anything like that. Now to some of you that may sound like a dream, but to others it may sound more like a nightmare (personally I love distraction free writing applications, I use iWriter. I find it frees me up to write about anything I want with ease).
Pros of Distraction Free Tools
You procrastinate less. Think about it: no distraction = no time wasted. They help you get what you want done as quickly and as peacefully as possible. There is no need to worry about using the right font or the right font size. It is decided for you. I find this useful, because it lets me get on with what I want to do without worrying about all the annoying settings and preferences.
They are peaceful. I know many people who do not like to write in Microsoft Word (as an example) because they find it “ugly,” among other reasons. This is not a problem with distraction free tools. They are so minimal they don’t even have enough features to look ugly. They are simply a white screen (or sometimes black) and that’s about it. They might have a few settings at the top, but it doesn’t really go further than that.
Cons of Distraction Free Tools
No pictures. This is a real problem if you like to write blog posts or add images to your novels. I’ve tried writing blog articles in distraction free tools and it can be a real pain (I actually think WordPress is the best place for writing for blogs). Some people see something like no images as a deal breaker for these tools, and for them they may be right. The rule of thumb is: if you use pictures a lot don’t go distraction free. All it will give you is a headache.
They are “missing” features. That’s how some people see it anyway. Not being able to change the font, make things bold or add links can drive some crazy.
When I first made the switch from Word to iWriter it was strange. I kept trying to find ways around the rules, ways to change the font size, ways to add links. It wasn’t until I started to understand what it was really for that I found peace with it.
Nevertheless it can be a nuisance to use them. And if you find yourself using other tools than your keyboard when writing, distraction free will not work for you.
So there you have it, the pros and cons. Now it’s time to make your own mind up on the matter. I think using things like this is really a matter of opinion and a matter of what you primarily write. If you are someone who usually writes for a blog site or a magazine agency this sort of thing probably won’t work for you. But if you are a simple novel writer or storyteller this could be the sort of thing you are looking for.
On regards to what distraction free writing application you should use: I would suggest that if you are a Mac user you give iWriter a shot. I use it for just about everything, I find it a godsend. It also has iPhone and iPad versions which all sync together painlessly, making for a well focused and intuitive workflow. If you are a Windows user I would suggest you give Q10 a try. It is a simple freeware app that offers you everything you would want and expect in a distraction free application, and a little more too.
There are many more distraction free applications for you to try out and you shouldn’t just take my word for it. You should give a few of them a go. In my opinion they will really change the way you write and make you much more efficient.
Joel Okimoto is a freelance writer and a huge fan of tech.