App keeps writers on task, or else

By Carolyn Kellogg Los Angeles Times

For writers, procrastination is an eternal enemy. It has classically waited in the pauses between words, in that argument outside the window, in being thirsty and needing a glass of water, in having to run to the bathroom. Now, with the Internet, it’s also lurking there on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram and Path, and wait, did the London Review of Books just post a new issue online?

In other words, procrastination is everywhere.

Avoiding the procrastination temptation can be too much to ask. But hey, there’s an app for that.

Write or Die is made specifically to keep writers on task. It comes with the tag line, “Putting the ‘prod’ in productivity.” It’s $9.99, but if you depend on writing for your income it might be a cheap tool.

How the app works: Writers begin typing in the app’s window. When the typing slows to a stop, there are consequences. The writer can set how severe those consequences will be. In “gentle” mode, a notice pops up with a kind reminder that it’s time to start writing.

In “normal” mode, the app begins to emit an unpleasant sound, which stops only when the typing begins again. In “kamikaze” mode, the app is set to destroy: When the writing has stopped for too long, the words begin to erase themselves.

There is also a “Nyan Cat” mode, turning an Internet meme into a destructive force. The message is clear: Keep writing, or else.

The app is $9.99. Such is the price of writing progress.