How To: Eliminate Distractions and Writer's Block using WriteMonkey
The more tasks we can accomplish with personal computers, the harder it becomes to focus on any one of them. A modern PC is a social hub for many people, even when working, and it is replete with relentless bells and whistles such as new mail notifications, chat requests, friend requests, meeting requests, video call requests, photo tagging alerts, software update notifications... the list is endless.
All of this makes life hell for the writer working from home, where there are no enforced restrictions against such distractions. Writer's block is a real threat to many authors whose livelihood depends on the quality and quantity of their written output - and it is exacerbated by modern distractions such as Facebook, Skype, YouTube and even simple email.
WriteMonkey is a free, lightweight writing app that uses a stripped down, black background interface to improve concentration and encourage creating thoughts. It has no menu, and uses a stylish green courier font that results in a writing experience somewhat a blend of using an old fashioned typewriter and an early nineties IBM PC/compatible (in short - a complete joy).
One of the great things about WriteMonkey is that it is a tiny download that requires no installation. Download the file archive using the related download link for this article, then extract the contents of the archive to a safe place on your PC. Run WriteMonkey.exe to get started.
The first thing you will notice about WriteMonkey is that it blacks out the entire screen, so that only the cursor is visible. This has been proven to aid concentration (a white background is tiring for both the eyes and the brain). There is no menu provided in WriteMonkey, which means the only thing to do is write, the old fashioned way. Start typing and the words appear in a retro green courier font.
Actually, WriteMonkey is hiding an impressive number of features for such a small download, but it keeps them out of sight and out of mind. Press the right mouse button to shown the main WriteMonkey menu.
From the right mouse button menu, you have access to the standard features you would expect from a text editor (which is what WriteMonkey essentially is, albeit with a fresh approach to improving concentration) - you can save the current document, load a new document, print a document, check spelling and insert bold/italic/underline text.
To access additional options in WriteMonkey, select Preferences from the right mouse button menu.
From the Preferences menu, you can set the font type and colour (although we personally love the green Courier type, but perhaps we are showing our age), the paper colour and other preferences such as launching in full screen, automatically opening the last viewed file and adding a context menu option "Open with WriteMonkey" in Windows.
Click OK to save the preferences, which are stored in the application folder you extracted.
Tips & Advice
- To use WriteMonkey on different machines, copy the application folder across and it will store your preferences. Remember, WriteMonkey doesn't need installation and can be executed on any Windows machine just by running the WriteMonkey.exe file.
- WriteMonkey helps to improve your concentration by blocking out other screen elements and allowing you to focus on the words you are writing, but it is much more effective if you close down applications such as Skype, email, and your web-browser, where temptations such as Facebook and YouTube are. This combination of disciplines is the key to beating writer's block!