Just before starting this article I thought I ought to check my email. Then I checked the FocusWriter website to see if there was an update, or a UK English dictionary. Then I had a quick look at my TwitterFeed when something popped up in the corner of my eye. Then...
Well, anyway, when I finally got round to actually putting FocusWriter through its paces, I could see it was designed for people just like me, ie those for whom the internet, email and so on and so forth can be as much a source of distraction as one of enlightenment.
FocusWriter is a program that is designed to help you focus on writing. There are a few bells and whistles, but not that many. And in any case, when you fire it up it takes over the whole screen. You don’t even get to see the menus or icons of FocusWriter itself unless you move the mouse pointer up to the top of the screen.
Move the pointer to the bottom of the screen and you will see useful stats like your word count and what percentage of your goal you’ve achieved.
OK, so let’s talk about goals. You can set your goal for the day in the Preferences menu, either as the amount of time you spend or the number of words you produce. This is potentially a handy feature, although, disappointingly, any changes you make to your goal apply to every Session.
What is a ‘Session’, I hear you ask. Let’s suppose I’m working on three bits of writing. By starting a new Session for each of them, and then starting a new document in each Session, I cause a wondrous thing to happen. The next time I start one of these Sessions, it automatically opens the last document I was working on, and even places the cursor at the point I reached when I saved it and quit. Why couldn’t Word have a feature like this?
Another feature is the alarm. You can set this either to an actual time or to a ‘delay’. The actual time alarm is for when you want to get down to watch your favourite TV programme, or make a phone call, or have dinner, etc. The ‘delay’ is for when you want to set the alarm for, say, 20 minutes’ time.
Getting to grips with the program is very straightforward, as you can probably see from the screenshots. No need to wade through a hefty manual.
If you find word processors like Word too ‘busy’, you might like to try FocusWriter.
For me, much as I admire the program, I find the same problem with all such applications. It is that the very absence of so-called ‘distractions’ is, to me, in itself distracting. I like having various bits and pieces at my fingertips.
But that’s just me. You might as well give FocusWriter a whirl. After all, it’s free!