Writer’s block? There’s an app for that.

by David Alm on June 15, 2012

Writer’s block is as much a part of being a writer as banging your head against the wall in frustration when publisher’s don’t return your calls. I jest, but seriously — it doesn’t matter how successful you are or what kind of writing you do; if you’re a writer, you’ve been stuck.

Not anymore, if the makers of Write or Die have anything to say about it. The app, now available for $9.99, aims to keep you on task by threatening you with some pretty dire consequences if you stop churning out copy. Set it to “kamikaze” mode, and it will begin deleting words you’ve already written after 45 seconds of no activity.

Using the tagline “Putting the ‘prod’ in productivity,” the app’s creators don’t appear to be writers themselves. Inspiration can be fickle, and in my view, it can’t be induced by force, coercion, prodding, or threat. Ten years passed between Jonathan Franzen’s two most recent books, both critically and publicly acclaimed. Robert Caro has devoted the past 40 years to his massive, multi-volume biography of LBJ. Philip Roth has said that when he gets “on a roll,” he takes it as a cue to slow down, because good writing can’t be rushed — images of Jack Kerouac at his Underwood typewriter, cigarette dangling from his lips, feverishly pounding out the prose in a daze of benzedrine and booze notwithstanding.

But that’s just my opinion. Maybe some writers will find the app useful. If nothing else, it may prevent them from checking Facebook every 30 seconds.

Jeff McMahon June 15, 2012 at 9:06 am

David, why don’t journalists get writer’s block?

Pete June 15, 2012 at 10:26 am

If you stop writing in mid sentence to check Facebook, the app should automatically delete your last 500 words.

David Alm June 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Not sure journalists don’t get writer’s block, but if they don’t (or not as much), maybe it’s because they’re often working with facts that they’ve already gathered, and have a specific purpose for whatever it is they’re writing. I’ve never had writer’s block when working on a piece of journalism, but I have struggled with how to structure a piece, which word to use in a specific place, and other head-scratchers that have left my computer idle for more than 45 seconds at a time. If my work were deleted on account of those periods of (physical) inactivity, I’d be pretty upset about it. Which is why I won’t be buying this app.

Mohammed Saleh Ali June 26, 2012 at 5:34 am

Writers Block sets in often when cluttered topics dangle along making me take time to pen along.Often a slight walk from the scene rejuvenates energies towards continuity…and often taking a remoter direction

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