Write or Consequences, on steroids

Write or Consequences, on steroids

I’m always willing to try something a little different. I’m not looking for a “quick fix” or a shortcut of any kind — I’ve been writing way too long to bother with those — but I enjoy exploring opportunities to perhaps “do” writing in new and refreshing ways.

So when I ran across the Flowstate app and its sister website, The Most Dangerous Writing App, I knew I had to give it a go.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Set the timer.
  2. Write like hell.

Because if you pause for longer than 5 seconds, everything you’ve written will disappear. (Helpful tip: Backspacing does not count as typing. The app lumps backspacing with, as you might guess, going backward.)

But if you run out the timer, your text is right there onscreen, ready to be copied and pasted into your favorite (more permanent) writing application for pondering, editing, and saving.

So there’s no time to:

  • Check email.
  • Look at Facebook.
  • Browse the latest Amazon Kindle offerings.
  • Put in a load of laundry.
  • <Insert your favorite distraction here>

The thinking behind Flowstate and the Most Dangerous Writing App site is simple: We give way too much power to our internal editors, and that tendency stops us from experiencing the “flow” we sometimes get into when we’re really feeling the writing. The idea comes from game theory, in which there’s a productive tension between situational challenge and the user’s capabilities. So for the Most Dangerous Writing App (which is what I’ve been playing with since Flowstate was a whopping $9.99 on iOS when I started this little experiment, though it’s now down to $4.99), the timer offers that situation intended to challenge my capabilities.

Well, I have to say that, under the circumstances of this particular challenge, I have proven repeatedly that I can write hella drivel, backstory, stream of consciousness, and third-person narrative fiction à la Iris Murdoch.

On the other hand, that beats the hell out of staring at a blank page for a couple of hours because I can’t figure out how to start that crucial conversation between two characters. I sometimes let myself get stumped on the oddest things rather than just diving in and seeing how things go.

And that’s where I think Flowstate and the Most Dangerous Writing App come in for me. The timed writing technique is a swift kick in the pants to get on with it — and keep going, even if only for 5 minutes — that forces a break in my supposed “writer’s block.” (I don’t have writer’s block. I have writer’s delay. There’s a difference.)

So while I feel the pressure to keep writing while the timer’s going, no matter how much crap is spewing onto the screen, I don’t have an opportunity to start obsessing over turns of phrase or whether the character would say that at precisely that moment. I have to let those things go. Nor can I go back and lose precious time revising something a full paragraph back. Editing is for later. The timer reminds me I’m supposed to be creating. And I can consistently create 300 words in 5 minutes when under timer pressure.

What comes out on the page is not publish-worthy by any stretch of the imagination, but it does give me a leg-up on what the Girls have in mind, figuring out what really needs to come out in dialogue, and discovering those dirt-encrusted gems of imagery.

April Madness is almost here, and I plan on using the Most Dangerous Writing App as my secret weapon to successful participation.

Damn the perfectionism! Full speed ahead!


Sandra K. Moore

Sandra K. Moore has been writing one thing or another since she could scribble on a Big Chief tablet. A former Silhouette Bombshell author, Sandra has given up (temporarily) the kickass heroine and is now writing from her softer side for the self-published Promise House series. This novella quartet explores the journeys of four young women finding their way — and remaining true to themselves — through the social expectations and turmoil of 1950’s Houston.

4 thoughts on “Write or Consequences, on steroids

  1. Been getting similar results on my Alpha Smart without the pressure of a timer. Potentially losing words, I won’t lie, does scare the beejesus out of me, but 300 words in five minutes is quite a lure (individual results may vary).
    Remember when I reported that I filled an entire AS file? That number is up to three now so I’m real darn curious to see how that affects my word count. Depending on what I discover, I will then decide whether to continue with my AS during April Madness or take a far more dangerous approach.
    Regardless though, I will be super duper curious to learn how it goes for you, Sandra. More power to ya!

    1. I was thinking about you and your AlphaSmart experience as I was writing this post. It seemed to me that it’s creating the same result — go forward — without the potential downside. Flowstate forces forward progress while the AlphaSmart encourages it.

      For those of us who believe we’re natural multitaskers, which often means we’re just easily distracted, Flowstate and the Most Dangerous Writing App penalizes that impulse to take our attention away from the writing.

      I’ve been finding that I ritualize the writing time a little more: Dear Him gets warned not to interrupt me for the next few minutes; the phone ringer is turned off; browser tabs are closed. Because any distraction whatsoever will cause me to lose the work.

      We’re going camping later this week, so I’m interested in finding out how that will go… 🙂

  2. I love this idea! As soon as my life isn’t controlled by drugs and pain, I’m giving this a try! This sort of taking the 100’words a day challenge and putting it on steroids, thanks for sharing!

    1. Dearest Terri! I hope you get cut loose from the drugs and pain soon, and can get back to doing everything you love!

      I have to say that Flowstate certainly creates focus in a hurry… For me, it’s great because I pretty much have to shut everything down — email, browser, phone, etc. — so I don’t pop out of “the zone” at the first distraction.

      I’ve even resorted to letting Dear Him know when I’m about to set the timer going because the first few times I was using it “for real,” he found pressing things that needed my attention ASAP (“where’s my new screwdriver?” “can you come hold this piece of wood while I saw it in half?” “I need you to come help me think about this arcane programming problem I found”). 🙂

      So in April Madness, I’ve been scoring some serious wordage in 10-15 minutes, which is more than I would have gotten had I relied on just sheer willpower to get words on the page. Woohoo!

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