Why You Should Write or Die

I’ve been a big fan of Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die online application for years now, since I ventured into the NaNoWriMo pool in 2010, and let me tell you: it was and still is a massive adventure.

Imagine setting a writing goal, 750 words in 15 minutes, and then actually having to MEET that goal because your word processor? Out to get you. And while that’s a stretch, it’s also pretty darn true!

For those of you who haven’t yet heard of Write or Die, the title pretty much explains it all. You write and write and write and if you don’t then your written words…die. Quickly. You can set your ‘forgiveness’ level and take advantage of some level of leeway, but the end remains the same: meet or beat your goal, or your words die. And you die a little inside as well, because of the soul crushing agony of seeing whole lines of your hard-won words disappearing into nothing. 

Its a great motivator for when you’re in a crunch or when you have so many ideas bouncing around in your head that writing seems otherwise impossible. There is no better prod to a over-active muse than the threat of words disappearing. And you can’t get them back. there is no reverse function; once your words are gone, they are gone. Write or Die also helpfully accents this risk with an increasingly red danger screen, at least in the web app. 

The desktop version, which I purchased this week to great fanfare and then immediate panic (I typed 350 words in 7 minutes BARELY meeting my goal) lets you set creepy music for warnings and plays a nice fanfare when you accomplish your goal. It runs on Adobe air so it works on Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems. How’s that for a universal writer’s tool?

Even if you don’t purchase the desktop app (it’s priced at an amazing $10), the Write or Die web app should be in your go-to bookmarks. It is a simple typing space, not editing or formatting options, geared towards doing that thing we as writers most fail to do, ACTUALLY WRITE. You can type anything in there, blog posts, college papers, a song you’ve been tip-toeing around… Write or Die truly does ‘put the PROD in productivity’, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t use it. Did I mention that the web app is free?

Here’s a prompt for you: “Her nose burned, the choking fumes filling her head like poison gas and melting her eyes in their sockets.” 500 words or thereabout and if you use Write or Die, tell us your best time!


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