Distraction-free writing apps boost productivity

anewdomain.net – The key to productivity is razor-sharp focus. But concentration isn’t always easy, especially when the task at hand involves writing. Faced with a barrage of incoming emails, Twitter updates and text messages, even the most disciplined person can turn a three-paragraph memo into a three-hour endeavor.

These distraction-free writing apps mimic the Spartan look and feel of a typewriter, and allow you to focus on that email, memo or report you desperately need to finish.


Image credits: Madison Andrews

WriteRoom is an OS X Lion app that offers full-screen focus and minimalist, customizable themes. The latest version – WriteRoom 3.0 – keeps tabs on your writing progress by automatically tracking character, word, line and page count, as well as reading and session time. The app is $9.99, but you can test it first with a 30-day free trial.

There are a handful of themes included in the paid version, and you can also visit the WriteRoom blog to download user-generated themes – or create your own, if you’re feeling inspired, and share them with the WriteRoom community. There’s also a free, Windows-based equivalent of the app called DarkRoom.

OmmWriterOmmWriter is another Mac OS desktop app that aims to help you relax as well as focus – the soft, pastoral themes and meditative music make you feel like you’re at a writing day spa. Personally, I find the OmmWriter atmosphere a little distracting for anything but journaling, which I prefer to do in an actual notebook. But my tastes may be anachronistic.

CreaWriter is a desktop app for Windows that offers a similarly Zen-like feel, though it’s not affiliated with the Barcelona-based design firm behind OmmWriter.

WriteAppWriteApp is a newer, web-based alternative that allows you to write, store and share notes online. It lets you choose from several minimalist themes and color-scheme options and supports full-screen mode.

If privacy is your main concern, then a desktop app running on a web-disabled computer is probably a better option than WriteApp. Nevertheless, its designers put great effort into keeping your information secure – every visit to the site is encrypted using 256-bit SSL with HSTS enabled. Sharing your WriteApp notes, while easy to do, is also entirely up to you. Each new note you create is kept private by default.

USB TypewriterIf you want to embrace the old-school typewriter, Jack Zylkin of USB Typewriter offers a fusion of analog and digital technology. His USB typewriters and conversion kits let you sync any functional typewriter to your tablet or desktop computer. So you can type in a distraction-free zone and save your work as you go, then edit later in a word processor. I’ve been salivating over these gorgeous machines for some time, but have yet to purchase one from his Etsy store. For now, I’ll continue to rely on my banana yellow Remington Quiet-Riter for difficult first drafts.

What are your favorite distraction-free writing solutions? Leave me a comment if you have experience with any of these, or other suggestions to contribute.

Madison Andrews
Madison Andrews is a writer, editor, and designer living in Austin, Texas. She is founder and editor of madskillsvocabulary.com.
Madison Andrews
Madison Andrews
Tags: Productivity,Software,Technology
  • Petula

    I tried OmmWriter after it was recommended by a friend and I chuckled at your opinion of it. I actually feel the same way. I didn’t know what that feeling was until you said “the soft, pastoral themes and meditative music make you feel like you’re at a writing day spa. Personally, I find the OmmWriter atmosphere a little distracting for anything but journaling,” <– excellent description.

    That's the only one I've tried and I will definitely choose one or two from this list to test. I hope it doesn't cause more writing procrastination. :-)

    Now I do use Blogger on my Smartphone and it proves to be distraction free 'cause I don't wanna go through the trouble of clicking out of it just to see what I'm being notified about. Maybe one of your suggested apps will inspire and cure procrastination.

    Thanks for the information – great post.