Writing Tool: Apps to Keep You Going

mom writing

Hello to all the spooky readers out there who are also spooky writers! Today I want to talk directly to you! Since Covid hit, I’ve been hearing two different strands of the same conversation:

Extroverts: I just need to get out of this house/apartment/yurt and see some PEOPLE.

Introverts: I’d be fine if I wasn’t trapped in my house/apartment/yurt with all these PEOPLE.

Either way, the consensus is that all of this is taking a toll on our writing. I’m in the introvert camp. And because I live in a smallish and very busy house, I usually begin my writing routine by…well…leaving. I do my best work in coffee shops, and sometimes even at the bar of a favorite restaurant. I can work in noisy public places, because nothing going on around me is:

  1. My problem
  2. Going to lead to a bigger problem later (i.e. kids putting liquid dish soap in the dishwasher)

At home, I have to find ways to create a bubble around myself so I can focus. And like most of us, since March I’m basically always at home. So today, I’d like to share a few of the apps and tools that have helped me keep writing.

Ambient Noise Apps:

One of my favorite tricks is to drown out the noises I find distracting. I can’t always do this with music, though. I sing along instead of writing, or I get picky about individual tracks and start skipping around. One app I use instead is Coffitivity, which offers me several different coffee shop background tracks. It lets me add music from another app as if it’s the overhead music in the shop (which helps me leave it alone) and offers the option to choose which sound is dominant, the music or the background noise. I also *loved* the Ambience app, but it’s discontinued (woe)! So far the best replacement I’ve found is Noise– Mix HD. Most ambient sound apps are designed to help you sleep, which is not what I’m looking for! This one has everything from a dog park to a pool at a hotel. You do have to buy individual sounds beyond the basics or purchase the app upgrade, but it’s totally worth it.

Productivity Apps:

My favorite is Focus Keeper, hands down. For those who aren’t familiar with the Pomodoro method, you work in short bursts (like twenty-five minutes) with five minute breaks in between. After a certain number of bursts you get a longer break. The ticking of the timer keeps me focused (although I confess, because I’m a spooky writer I sometimes catch myself looking around for the Bent-Necked Lady from Hill House), and the bell that signals a break is followed by ocean sounds. You can set your own sprint lengths, pause the countdown if you need to, and use it in tandem with music or the ambient noise apps above. Mac/Google Play

Genuinely Wicked Apps

If you’re a Mac user and your primary distraction is web surfing, there’s also a desktop app called Self Control that is not messing around. It will lock you out of absolutely everything until your writing burst is done.

Lastly, there’s my perennial favorite, Write or Die. Don’t Google it. I don’t know what’s going on with Version 3, but it’s a mess. V.2 works fine, though! There’s a web client, or you can purchase the desktop version. You tell it how vicious you want it to be, from getting rickrolled if you pause too long to watching your words erase themselves one by one until you start typing again. Very motivational!

Hopefully some of these apps will make you feel like you’re getting out of the house (or at least help you filter out what’s going on IN your house) so you can write. I’m also definitely here for whining and commiseration, so come find me on twitter (@Saille)! Happy writing!

–Sarah Cannon 

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