Write or die, for those with hyperbolic discounting

There is a new product to help you with getting things done, writeordie.com:

Write or Die is an application for Windows, Mac and Linux which aims to eliminate writer’s block by providing consequences for procrastination and, new to this version, rewards for accomplishment. Historically Write or Die has specialized in being the stick in the carrot/stick motivation continuum, but it’s time to experiment with encouragement.

One of the biggest improvements is the inclusion of visual stimulus. Instead of just writing to avoid annoying sounds and alarm warning colors you can now customize your stimulus. If you like to see a cute puppy after you’ve reached a certain number of words, you can. If you’d like to write in fear of a jiggling spider, you can do that too.

Under some modes, if you spend too much time without typing, it starts erasing the words you already have created.

For the pointer I thank Jonathan Falk.


Under some modes, if you spend too much time without typing, it starts erasing the words you already have created.

Reminds me of that Family Guy joke about the stuffed gorilla where if you buy one, they save a gorilla in the wild . . . and if you don't, they kill one.

Maximum productivity is not necessarily optimal, when quality is taken into account. If it were, integrating this technology with the shock collar would be the obvious strategy to overcome the Great Writer's Block.

This. I saw that software mentioned somewhere else this week, don't remember where. The point was, the writer did write, but ended up scrapping the whole thing anyway because it was nonsense.

Then again, telling each other that first drafts are supposed to be meaningless and awkward is a favourite pastime among procrastinating writers. If you subscribe to that theory, the app makes sense. NaNoWriMo did produce Water for Elephants, after all.

Exactly. Too much crap gets written and published every day already.

You get Writer's Block when programming too. I think for me it's a natural part of the learning curve, not so much procrastination. Just now I finished the difficult new Entity Framework in C# ADO.NET, which did away with the charming Linq-to-SQL convention that I was familiar with five years ago and replaced it with the DbContext API (supposedly to make things easier but it's worse IMO). It took me until just now, nearly two days, to finally read enough about it and code a HELLO WORLD CRUD application. I can finally breathe again. It is so frustrating to find a new API, but when you finally 'get it', after much studying, your writer's cramp disappears. What is bad about the internet is that there's no one source for programming knowledge, even in StackOverflow, since so many flavors of Entity Framework exist, and database programming in general. Kind of like the many schools of economics. Back to coding...

Sounds like there are possibilities if you manage an IT outsourcing company.

There's no substitute for a genuine good old-fashioned deadline.

A well known social psychologist I know wears a digital watch which counts down from her expected life expectancy. The seconds and minutes just fly by and she is always busy.

That is her way to get things done before the clock runs out because time is fleeting and precious.

I suggested to her that her watch should have two displays, one of which she could market to financial institutions:

1. The first display is the countdown till death, which is a descending number.

2. The second display is a display showing how much she has to save for retirement. An increasing number, which would crush her spending habits.

I wonder what the buzzer sounds like at the end.

Death to writeordie.com. A long and enduring death to writeordie.com. Multiple and grisly deaths to writeordie.com. Unending and horrific deaths to writeordie.com.

Death to writeordie.com.

I'm just going to link to a TED talk by Dan Pink who has very interesting to say about that :


the TL;DW version is that while the stick and carrot method helps getting basic and unimaginative things done, it tends to narrow your field of vision to focus more on the task at hand, thus reducing the creativity needed to solve more complex problems, or to come up with something new - which is what artists should be after.

The best cure for writer's block is writer's cramp.

A real deadline with real consequences is the key.

I would not trust the word of someone who believes they need to be controlled, especially by a machine. I recommend, as an alternative, a career as a barrista.

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