The Two Applications That Saved My Sanity (Really!)

Good morning writers!!!

Aside from the normal tools of the writing trade, paper, pen and text editor (Word, LibreOffice etc) there is a gigantic host of writing oriented gear out there, just waiting for you to give it a shot. I had always been told that all a writer needs is pen/paper and time. Fortunately, I hate being told what a writer needs/wants/is and have already rebelled against the know-it-alls! While on the surface the idea of these simple means of story creation sound appealing to our naturally romantic side, it doesn’t always seem to be enough. Sometimes you just need a little more organization, assistance, and a general push that many of these programs seek to provide. Rather than give you a large list of programs that I know little about, and tell you that you should maybe try the ones that sound like they might be helpful, I’ve decided that I’m just going to demand that you give these next two a try. I’ve personally been using them both for a few years and they have almost single-handedly been responsible for enormous jumps in my productivity and a new found ability to overcome many of the often crippling writing habits I’ve formed over the years. Seriously, I can’t say enough great things about them!


If you’re anything like me, you find yourself wishing you were either more organized or, in the least, appeared more organized. When it comes to your writing, having 100s of little slips of paper scattered around your home, feels like a completely effective method of story generation, until that one day when you realize that it’s become impossible to keep track of them all! Scrivener, by Literature and Latte, is probably the single most amazing program that you will ever find as a writer. For starters, out of all the writing software that’s out there, it is hands down the cheapest, aside from a few free programs which offer bare bones bullshit and could never compare. At $40.00, it’s usefulness will be consistently paying for itself over and over, as long as you continue to author.

Scrivener offers everything for storyboarding, outlining, taking notes, composing research and full screen text editing, but where Scrivener really shines, is it’s sheer quantity of different organizational methods. Between it’s storyboarding mode, enormous tree structured organization and the ability to bounce back and forth between different views, note cards, folders full of bits of text and pictures, all of which are color coded, and tailored to your any whim, Scrivener creates the most amazing order from the chaos of any writers life. I can’t say enough fantastic things about this program! I will be providing a full write up on it at a later date. It really deserves so much more time than I can dedicate to it at this moment, but I’ve already created a binder within Scrivener where I’m starting to collect screen shots and bits of info that I find are important, and will be composing my post right there! Since the good folks over at Literature and Latte have been polite enough to offer a free demo of the program, there really is no reason not to try it. I skipped right over the demo and bought the program because I’d heard some amazing things, so I’m not sure of the differences between the paid and free just yet, but expect that info to come in a longer post about Scriveners amazingness.

Seriously, go over there right now and just LOOK AT IT! If you aren’t convinced that this is something you need, right now, look again! There are tens of other programs out there that do bits of what Scrivener does, but having sifted through a bunch of them, I can tell you that none of them comes close to the functionality of this program, and at a price far steeper, they will leave you feeling used and abused.

Scrivener: $40

Write or Die

This next program may very well be the one that saved me from launching myself from the precipice of the authorial abyss. One of my biggest issues, and I’m just assuming might be one of yours, is editing. I’m not talking about the normal process of editing. The process where you finish your work and go back and clean it up. I’m talking about CONSTANT EDITING. I’m talking about, you haven’t finished a paragraph in an hour because you have to make it perfect before you move on to the next, kind of editing. I’m talking about the editing that has you uber stressed because what you just wrote isn’t ready to be published already. You’ve been backspacing and erasing for hours and haven’t had the time to write the rest of the story. This is a crippling problem. It can and will stop many of you in your tracks on a regular basis and might, aside from writers block, be one of the single most contributing factors to a sheer lack of production and motivation. That my friends, is why you HAVE TO GET Write or Die by Dr. Wicked. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s not actually going to kill you if you don’t write, but you may find yourself wishing for that seemingly mild punishment of eternity in Hell.


Write or Die is the simplest little text generation program. It offers a few seemingly basic modes, Reward, Consequence and Stimulus. While the $20 price tag might sound steep for something with so few “options”, it’s their effectiveness that makes it worth every penny. Here’s how a writing session with Write or Die will go. You start it up, set it for Consequence mode, put in a word goal and a time limit, set a few extra parameters and start typing. A minute in, Facebook chimes and you decide you need to know what meaningless information a friend has just told you about their day, a few seconds in to this distraction a soft alarm starts playing, reminding you to get back to typing. It’s only slightly annoying at first, but then it gets louder, and LOUDer, and even LOUDER. You can’t ignore it anymore so you go back to Write or Die to turn it off. OH WAIT, YOU CAN’T JUTS TURN IT OFF, not without losing all the writing you just did. You have to start typing again for the alarm to stop. Maybe it’s not an alarm, maybe you’ve set it to be the sound of screaming babies…Yes, the sound of screaming babies is an option. The array of different annoying sounds is large and every one of them keeps you writing just so you don’t have to listen to that crap again. That’s the easy mode. As the levels of annoyance get higher, it will flash your screen in different colors, images and noises. Taking it a step further you can opt for Kamikaze mode, this is what I use. Stop writing for ten seconds, oh that’s ok, FIRST it’s going to scream at you, then it’s going to just start erasing the things you’ve written, word for word. That’s right, those precious thoughts will just start disappearing and there is NO WAY TO GET THEM BACK. You better keep writing, and consistently. You can’t slow down, edit or even think about the last words that came out of your mouth, or they will cease to exist. Soon you will find yourself lunging over your desk in an attempt to pee or grab a snack before everything disappears.

Now this program won’t be for everyone, but I’m telling you from experience, this is a life saver. Not only will you be forced to be productive, but you will finally be able to see the amazing ideas your mind creates when pushed into that stream of consciousness style of writing that few of us can ever effectively get to. It is possible to set it to allow you to save your work at any given moment, but this only serves to defeat the purpose of it in the first place. I set mine to only allow me to save when I reach either my word goal or time limit, effectively forcing a fantastic writing session out of me.

I have only used the first iteration of the program, but it has since been upgraded to Write or Die 2, which promises even more customization and mayhem. Head on over to Dr. Wicked’s site and give it a shot. You can use it for free, in your browser, at it’s most basic, and I would recommend doing that. This is one that you won’t want to spend the money on unless you are positive that you can actually spend the time writing in this manner. Otherwise, I can promise, you really will pull out every last hair on your body.

Write or Die: $20

As I’ve said, I use both of these amazing programs. They’ve upped my productivity ten-fold and I recommend them for any writer that needs the motivation or the organization ( I’m pretty sure that’s all of us!) I will be providing far more detailed write ups at a later date, but I didn’t want to wait to get the ideas planted in your head! Look up Scrivener and Write or Die, use them in their trial versions, and see for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!

Write on Writers!

Have a program that you use everyday? Think it might be something that your fellow writers can benefit from? Thoughts or experience with the two programs I wrote about here? Go ahead, leave a comment, let me know what you think or share your experiences!!!

All images pulled from their respective owners sites.


6 responses to “The Two Applications That Saved My Sanity (Really!)

  1. Wow! Both of these programs look really cool! I am an English major and also a writer so I am definitely going to download one of these!

  2. Pingback: The Two Applications That Saved My Sanity (Really!) | Everything Scrivener·

  3. Pingback: 5 Quick and Easy Ways To Finding Your Next Fiction Masterpiece! (Part 1) | The Write Subject·

  4. LOL. Gee I wonder if Tanya uses “Write or Die” ? sounds like her kind of program. Thanks for the tips. You will have to show me how they work sometime. Could be a help with my weekly writing chores.

  5. Thanks so much for writing this! I just finished writing a paper with the free trial of Scrivener and it made my life so much easier. I’m definitely going to buy the full version when my trial expires. I’m the kind of person who takes a million notes and it’s so great having everything in the same place.

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