5 Great Productivity Tools for Online Writers

What can I possibly do to start writing creatively on the computer?

I recently talked about how I found writing on paper to be more productive than writing on a computer. And so I started searching for ways to motivate myself – to complete chapters, meet deadlines and revise stylistic elements of whatever novel it was that I’m writing … whether it was on paper or on keyboard.

I thought my answer would lie somewhere on the internet. After all – it’s a rapidly growing ecosystem of blogs, websites, forums and chat conversations, some of which would be able to provide me with a solution, right?

Yeah, I was right. And the solution is paper.

1. The Task Progress Tracker

No – don’t get me wrong. The first solution starts off digitally, but it’s really a cool to-do list that you have to print out on … (waitforit!) strips of processed bark paper. productivitydavidseah.jpg
It’s called the Task Progress Tracker, part of David Seah‘s Printable CEO series of productivity sheets – something we can all do with in our daily lives. You start off with jotting down the name of your task, and then colouring in your progress in 15 minute increments. The maximum time alocated for each task is 4 hours – David includes instructions for what to do on the sheet if you overshoot (rewriting your climax five times), or if the task is too easy (a one page chapter, perhaps).

I found the check at the end of a task very rewarding, and the fifteen minute bubbles prevented procrastination, even with the TV on full blast. And that isn’t all! David provides Destruct-o-Matic and Power User editions, cute little variations on the original idea. Click the links above to be taken to their respective pages, read up a little on his instructions, and print!

2. Language is a Virus!

For downtime and writer’s block I found the Language Is A Virus page, with little writing ‘toys’ and resources to help you overcome obstacles. It doesn’t do much, and it wouldn’t help everyone, but I always find inspiration comes from the most unexpected of places. If walking the dog and chatting over coffee fails, I’d go there and give their toys a little spin. My favourite? The Writing Prompt widget.

3. JDarkRoom

I checked my inbox about 10 times while composing this post. It was distracting, time consuming and a complete waste of energy (there were no new emails). Why not blank everything out, instead of having a plethora of links, buttons and options assault you while you write?
Enter JDarkRoom. It’s runs on both Windows and Mac, and is completely free. Wipes out everything and leaves you to deal with just your words on the screen. Green on black. A real beauty. 105 kbs, download it here.

4. Writer (The Web-based JDarkRoom)

If you’re stuck in, say, Nepal, with a computer that doesn’t have Java (gasps at Windows 98 users), you can still have JDarkRoom on your browser. Go to Writer and hit F11, and then proceed to write. In Firefox? Not to worry. Disable tabs so you won’t glance desperately at your inbox.

5. Google Homepage
Don’t look so shocked. The Google Personalized Homepage is a really useful tool for writing. For a daily dose of quick loading inspiration get the Writer’s Unblock Tool. Here’s one:

Imagine a Beduoin on a sick camel
with a maid in a fresh-ironed apron
A frightened girl prays to the Gods;
a gypsy wagon comes travelling by
while we all dream of provincial love.

Almost like poetry.

[Update]: Here’s a sixth tool, for naming your characters: Quick Baby Names. The site’s got a cool, searchable repository of names and I think it sells itself to two kinds of people: 1, expecting parents 2,writers. Need an exotic name for a plain character? Go grab yourself something underĀ ‘X’.

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Category: Writing Tools