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.
Here’s what you do:
- Set the timer.
- 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 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.