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.