Bookmark It! : Productivity Tools

Despite my attempt, through this blog, to write more and write more frequently, I still find myself struggling to put words onto paper. It’s not that I don’t have the ideas; I’ve got a whole list of ideas I’m working through (and I think some of them will actually produce some half-decent reads). It’s not that I don’t have the time; I waste spend at least an hour a day on my various fantasy basketball teams. So what’s the problem? I think the issue was that I just wasn’t able to stay focused while writing. I’d often observed myself start writing a post, then get a bit bored or hit a stump of writer’s block, and whisk my browser off to Facebook or something, leaving the few sentences I’d written to wallow away until I felt like coming back to add onto them. On the occasional occasions that I did come back, the same cycle would strike. Ultimately, it would take me a lot longer than it should just to write a couple hundred words.

So I began searching for some productivity tools to help me write more and write more effectively. I came across two that seemed really interesting: Written? Kitten! and Write or Die. As you can imagine, the two had slightly different approaches to improving productivity. But they both seemed pretty interesting, and although I was a little skeptical, I decided to give both a try.

Being a huge cat lover and an owner of two awesome felines (creatively named Goldie and Blackie), I of course checked out Written Kitten first. The platform works through positive reinforcement — every time you write a certain (preselected) number of words, a cute picture of a kitten or multiple(!) kittens pop up to the side, encouraging you with their big round eyes to continue writing so that you’ll be able to see more of them. It’s surprisingly effective, but then again, I’m kind of a sucker for cats.

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Next, I took Write or Die for a spin. I was pretty bummed at first because website was asking for $10 bucks to buy the desktop version of the application. But then I discovered that a free web app was also available. The web app has fewer features than the desktop and tablet versions, but it still had more features than Written Kitten did. For example, on Write or Die, I can specify the time period for which I’ll be writing, and I can specify the level of “punishment.”

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Unfortunately, I couldn’t choose electric shock mode, so I settled for Kamikaze. I wasn’t really sure what this was, though. I was sort of expecting to be bombarded with loud horror movie-type screams or gory images of zombies and corpses to pop up while I wrote, but the reality was actually much scarier. Each second that I didn’t write, the screen around my text box grew steadily more red. Eventually, it became a kind of deep scarlet and something terrible happened. Starting with the last word I wrote, the application actually started deleting my writing, one word at a time! This freaked the crap out of me, and after that first mishap, where I lost a dozen or so words before I even realized what was going on, I picked it up and just spewed out anything I could think of in an attempt to preserve my work. The result is the first half of this post.

So which productivity tool is better? In terms of getting you to write, Write or Die was definitely more effective for me. That might partially be because I spent several minutes looking at each cat photo that popped up on Written Kitten, but I also think the pressure placed on me Write or Die was crucial in getting me to write a lot, quickly. But I definitely recommend checking out both and deciding for yourself which one is better.

As a side note, if you examine the Written Kitten snapshot very closely, you’ll see that I didn’t actually write much on there. That’s because both of these tools can be fooled by copying and pasting what you have already into their text boxes. Until next week, thanks for reading!

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