So some odd days ago, I’d written an article about word counts and how they didn’t matter and it really got me thinking. During this whole mess of having to organize one annoying task in my life, to having to complete yet another mundane task, I was forced to rethink the very foundations of my daily writing routine due to the painful monstrosity that it had become.
It really was a writer’s equivalent to a tragedy.
The first thing that the big-wigs in the novel-writing industry will tell you is that writing is hard work. And I’d be all kinds of sick in the head if I disagreed with that. Writing, by far, is the most stressful hobby that anyone could pick up. The amount mental energy, devotion, and utter talent that it demands of you is capable of draining the final fragments of your already exasperated spirit at the end of a day.
There are days where I just wake up, dreading the thought of coming to face with my computer. Days where all I want to do is take every word I’ve written and hand it to some other unfortunate soul that would have the sheer willpower to finish my work. On many occasions, it can feel impossible trying to gain a sense of aesthetic satisfaction through your writing, just because good writing sessions are so rare to come by!
But for these past few weeks, it had been miserable in the purest sense. My usual word quota was chopped in half, the garbled doodles of a three-year old exceeded the quality of my plot, and my characters had suddenly turned into brick walls that were sentient only for the purposes of the novel.
Now, it goes without saying that I’m going through First Draft Depression (FDD), but I’d started to realize that there were a variety of external factors determining my productivity during my sessions.
For starters, I’d begun to notice that my eyes would flit far too often toward the word count indicator in the word-processor I used in the past. This was a horrible habit I’d taken up, as it showed signs that I was focused too much on my progress during the session than trying to immerse myself in the story I wanted to tell.
My other habit, which was the more childish one, was my habit of timing my sessions and chastising myself if I took too long to write a certain amount of words. I don’t know if this is a lot, but I’m capable of writing 1000 words in half an hour on a normal day, but as all writers, I have plenty of bad days where I write much less. I ended up feeling like trash not just because my word counts were at an all-time low, but because I was treating my session like a race.
So how did I go about fixing all of this?
Well, normal people would advise that one should try to moderate their vices. Perhaps they would just ignore the amount of words that they created in a day, or avoid looking at the watch at the bottom of their laptop’s screen. And this is fine.
Of course, I’m not normal.
So being the masochist that I am, I decided that in my streak of genius I’d seek out a word-proccessor that just blocked out all of these things automatically. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m an easily addicted person, so if I’d just done the regular method, I’d be falling back into my old habits within a day or two.
Then, I decided to go on a little adventure. I surfed the web in a deep and philosophical inquiry as to what software could possibly replace my beloved Microsoft word (By this I mean that I just clicked on the first article I saw dedicated to alternative writing software).
And what do you know? I found a certain gem called Dark Room.
Now, there’s very little to say about Dark Room. There’s nothing fancy about it. It really is just a black screen with green text waiting to be filled up with whatever sickening filth comes to your imagination. It feels like writing on a DOS computer from the early 90s. Hell, I’ve you’ve played any text adevnture games, Dark Room might even be familiar to you.
Then again, I’ve the strange feeling that those had more features than this.
This is the novelist’s equivalent to taking their books out on a date. Only you, your work, and a pitch dark room.
*Wink, wink* *Nudge, nudge*
Regardless, the barren nature of this application is why I love it. No pesky fonts, no annoying counters, and no view of your computer’s timer either. It’s the closest that I’ve gotten to physically entering my own mind, and it gives an almost zen-like quality to writing.
My writing sessions have not been as horrifying as they were just a few days ago, and what pain still lingers is just the regular mental shut-downs that come with writing a novel.
So what am I trying to get across with this post?
The amount of things that can take you away from immersing yourself in your book are far-too many, and the last thing you want to do is just pile more on to the list. And for me, those “mores” came in the form of Word’s UI, and my laptop’s clock. I’m not saying that Dark Room is for everyone, but it’s certainly worth experimenting with your writing every now and then?
So what are your personal pet-peeves? Do you like the word count indicator? And if so, why? Are you the kind that times their writing instead of gauging it through word count? And would you be willing to make the switch to an application like Dark Room? Have you already?
As always, this has been the QuestingAuthor. Keep writing, my friends.