Distraction-free Writing Is Distracting to Me

Like over 300,000 other Mac users who downloaded the MacHeist nanoBundle (as covered by Simon), I received WriteRoom as part of the package’s bevy of software. This lightweight word processor promises distraction-free writing. Having read about it and the productivity concepts underlying it in the past (here’s an old WWD post from Leo about distraction-free writing tools, for example), I was interested in giving it a spin to see if it could help me.

In a word, I found WriteRoom distracting. Here’s why:

Green Text on a Black Background. Perhaps it’s because I wear bifocals, but I find the green text on a black background to be very distracting (it hurt my eyes!) — and don’t get me started on my flashbacks of Matthew Broderick in 1983’s action thriller,  “War Games. While some usability and productivity pundits do sing the praises of an all-black screen, the strain the screen contrast put on my eyes was a distraction unto itself.


No Visualization. Whether I’m writing my next post for WebWorkerDaily, an article, or a technical document for a client, I need to be able to visualize the final product as I’m writing. Like many writers, I like to see how my writing looks both on the screen and on paper in order to spare myself surprises at deadline time. Writing in WriteRoom doesn’t let me do that because it’s not WYSIWYG, and it doesn’t give me access to print preview or similar tools . As a technical writer, I’m probably not the right customer for WriteRoom. However, my work as a technical writer plays a heavy influence on my composition process, even when it comes to articles and blog posts.

However, while I didn’t find a productivity boost with WriteRoom, it doesn’t mean you won’t find one. As I often advise other writers, you have to find the composition process, workflow and right mix of tools that works for you and your projects.

WriteRoom is available with a free trial ($24.95 to purchase) from Hog Bay Software and — despite my experience — I recommend you giving it a try if you think it may help you with your writing.

Do you write with WriteRoom? Share your experience below.

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