A few years ago I was introduced to the concept of speed writing, whereby you set a timer for five minutes and just write. This is a great idea for when you are low on time, stuck or procrastinating on a project as it gets you moving. It is also proven to keep you going, as studies have shown that just doing five minutes of a task will get us in the ‘flow’ of doing and we will be more likely to continue until the task is done.
Back when I heard about this five-minute method I also heard about an application that forced a writer to write, by threatening to delete their current progress should they stop typing for more than five seconds. Scary I know.
Unfortunately, I forgot what the website was called and never did find it. Alas, though I liked the concept as a motivation tool I was never able to give it ago.
That was until last night.
Whilst scrolling through the awesome posts of a very talents blogger Rahul Gaur – his blog is Smoke Words Every Day. Please do go check out his blog! – I happened across a particularly interesting post.  Cure Your Writer’s Block By Doing This. And of course as a fellow writer, this titles automatically hauled me in my tracks and I just had to click on it.
And I wasn’t disappointed. Low and behold, it mentioned the productivity tool that had been missing in my life for years. The Most Dangerous Writing App!
The app was created by Manuel Ebert one Sunday afternoon, after a couple of glasses of wine (genius!). The application is open source and before you ask, no, your writing is completely private and is not submitted or stored on a server or anything nasty. Put bluntly, you aren’t going to see your next Best Seller in Waterstones with someone else’s name on the jacket.
But how does it work?
Think of it as a game, albeit a sadistic one that might make you want to throw the computer out of the window! The concept is to just write for five minutes without stopping for more than five seconds or else all of your current progress will vanish. Poof! Right before your eyes.
Ok, I’ll admit, it is a little bit evil.
But the good thing and the purpose of this evil is to shut down your inner critic, that little voice that nags at the back of your head. You know the one, its always telling you ‘you can’t write’, ‘that’s not a real word’, ‘you’re useless at this’. I call it – Mini Editor.
Now with Mini Editor hogtied and gagged, left squirming in the corners of your occipital lobe, you are now left with a nice quiet space to just write. Just write. Nothing else, just get that shoddy, spelling mistake riddle, grammatically incorrect swill down on paper and sort it out later. No fuss, no editing, or checking or thinking about what you HAVE to say next, just get the initial idea down.
Because I can almost guarantee that after just five minutes your motivation will be born and you won’t want to stop. After five minutes you know that there is editing to do, but you have met the criteria, and so now the pressure of ‘writing something’ is off. You have done the ‘job’ as it were and now you can enjoy.
And that is the thing that kills our motivation in the first place. When we view our writing as a job or a chore rather than something just for us, something we enjoy. So let’s bring back the fun a little by giving ourselves a bit of a scare.
The other reason I really like this app is that you can set it up so that you are not just writing for five minutes. If you really need a kick up the posterior then you can write for increments of 10, 20, 30 and 60 minutes. Though just remember this is not for the faint of heart as if you stop for more then five seconds, bye bye word count.
You can also write for only 3 minutes, which I think is great if you are short on time, as it still gets something done. And the quick save button once your time is up is a blessing.
Alternatively, if you have to reach a certain word count you can also set your criteria to this. For instance, I try to write a very bare minimum of 500 words of my novel a day. So if I am having a hard time I would just open The Most Dangerous Writing App and have it stop at 500 words. The really nice thing about it is usually, by running against the 5-second metaphorical alligator lurking in the depths of cyberspace to consume my hard earned efforts, I generally exceed the word count because I am enjoying my writing.
You can also set the app to word counts of 75, 150, 250, and a whopping 1667, great if you are taking part in NaNoWriMo. The application also has a hardcore mode, but proceed with caution here. Although the 5-second deadline for pausing in your typing still stands, the writing appears on the screen blurred so that you cannot see what you have just written. It also magnifies the characters you are typing which are rather distracting, but certainly a challenge.
Overall, I think this is a great application and certainly something every writer should try, if only once in their career.
For myself, I think this is going to be my go-to tool from now on to get me started whenever I am in a slump.
Let me know what you think in the comments below, and I would, of course, love to see examples of how you have used this app too. Happy Writing!!
P.S. This is not an affiliate post, I am just sharing because I think its cool. And also hat-tip to Smoke Words Every Day for helping me re-discover this app. Please show some love and check out his feed.
Also, a Big Thank You to Manuel Ebert for not only creating the app but also offering a press kit and a free for all offer for writers to write about his creation. All images with the exception of the title image are copyright to Eberts press kit.