NaNoWriMo Meets Dr. Wicked

by Bill Henderson


Fellow NaNoWriMo voyagers, do I sense among a few of us – perhaps not even an insignificant few – a certain balkiness, even light dread, at the approaching onset of November 1?

Oh, I know, we’re all excited, thrilled, can’t wait. But then there’s…the keyboard. Like, actually getting started at the keyboard. Staying put at the keyboard. Try as we might to be brave, in the darkest of our Jack-o-Lantern hours, the fears return.

Writer’s block. Just shoot me.

We’ve stood tall for NaNoWriMo five times and never won. We’ve tried everything to make that word count. The most solemn promises, the holiest of sacred vows – they have no effect, none. Even rewards, like chocolate eclairs or triple fudge ice cream sundaes, don’t work.

Time to get serious: how about some mildly sadistic self-punishment? If you’re nodding yes, Dr. Wicked’s “Write or Die,” might be for you.

Mind you, I’m not affiliated with Dr. Wicked, but I am a longstanding fan of the original web-based Write or Die, which is still available online free, in a new version just in time for Halloween, mwa-ha-ha-haa…but more important, perfectly timed to help you battle the your own NaNoWriMo demons.

Write or Die, for you lucky innocents who’ve never heard of it, is THE word-processor for the output-challenged, because it comes with a negative reinforcement system for those bad habits that have held us back for so long.

At last, a program that enforces good writing habits with a stick, not a carrot!

After declaring a word-length and a time, users of “Write or Die,” must stay on pace to achieve them, or else suffer punishment. In Dr. Wicked’s words, Write or Die “encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box. As long as you keep typing, you’re fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences.”

How dire the “circumstances” depends on the level of punishment you’ve chosen (I particularly like this feature–you chose your own punishment.)

Your choices:

* Gentle Mode: A certain amount of time after you stop writing, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.

* Normal Mode: If you persistently avoid writing, you will be played a most unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.

* Kamikaze Mode: Keep Writing or Your Work Will Unwrite Itself.

Yes, literally. The last word you wrote will disappear, and the rest will follow it, your work cannibalizing itself, word by word. Unless you start writing again, you’ll lose whatever you’ve written.

And oh, there is a fourth level: Electric shock mode (not operable). Dr. Wicked claims he’s just kidding about this one. But he also says he’s open to ideas on how to get it working.

In her late years, the one-named French novelist, Colette not only forgave her evil husband Willi for locking her in a room until she’d made the day’s word count–she even lauded him: “He made a writer of me.”

After Write or Die, will we someday be saying: “Thank you, Dr. Wicked. Ouch! You made writers of us.”? What do you think?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eros-Alegra Clarke October 29, 2009 at 5:07 am

Personally, I would like to set up a research fund for the electric shock option…

2 Bill Henderson October 29, 2009 at 9:46 pm

I’ll contribute.

3 Patrick Link October 31, 2009 at 7:48 pm

I’m a fan of kamikaze. It’s like in Back to the Future when the picture of Marty’s brothers and sisters start to fade away…

Thanks for the farmers, we get an extra hour of writing time tomorrow to kick off NaNoWriMo. I’ve got my fingers ready!

4 Patrick Link November 1, 2009 at 1:19 am

That is to say, due to Daylight saving time, we’ll have en extra hour for writing. I should proof read my comments before posting…gosh, this instant publishing takes courage!

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