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This writing app deletes everything if you stop typing

4 February 2016

From Mashable:

Writing on a computer can be one of the most harrowing experiences of the modern era. With a bevy of Internet distractions including endless pictures of puppies, videos of people falling down and social media, it’s a wonder anything actually gets done anymore. How can anyone stay focused while simultaneously drowning in thousands of procrastination catalysts just one click away?

Flowstate, found on Product Hunt, is a writing app for OS X ($14.99) and iOS ($9.99) that wants to keep you focused. You select a font, timeframe and title, then start writing. If you stop typing, your text begins to fade, and it’s completely deleted after five seconds of inactivity.

. . . .

You can choose timeframes between 5-180 minutes, although one of the creators Caleb Slain told Mashable you’ll only really start to lock in at 15 minutes or longer.

. . . .

“You as a person want to keep the things you own, it’s your natural instinct,” Slain said

“So if you make a sentence, you make a paragraph, you don’t want it to go away, but the only way to keep it is to write more. So if you make a sentence, you make a paragraph, you don’t want it to go away, but the only way to keep it is to write more.”

The more you write, the more you have to lose.

“Before you know it, you have page, or two pages,” he said. “Nothing in the world matters anymore except for keeping what’s yours.”

Link to the rest at Mashable and thanks to Jill for the tip.

Writing Tools

58 Comments to “This writing app deletes everything if you stop typing”

  1. Good God. Disappears? And then I would have to jump out the window, but as I am on the 4th floor, with my luck I would survive. Or I could stick my head in a gas oven, if I had a gas oven.
    People really pay for this?

  2. And for those that don’t trust computers anyway, we also have pens that the ink disappears if your hand doesn’t keep going back and forth over the paper keeping it warm.

  3. Writing on a computer can be one of the most harrowing experiences of the modern era.

    But not harrowing enough apparently. I’m waiting for someone to wire a keyboard to give electric shocks if you overuse adverbs. 🙂

    • lmao – don’t worry, I’m sure it’s on the way!

    • I would prefer having someone stand behind me and hit me with a club if I stop writing than my words disappearing.

    • I’m wondering what this person’s idea of “modern era” is…

      Twenty years ago, sure, your Pentium II or whatever you used could (and totally would) seize up and defecate the bed on a regular basis (generally just as you finished writing a document or logging expenses in your Quickbooks).

      The number of businesses I did tech work for that did not use any kind of backup system was astounding. Absolutely amazing that a $1mil/year business would barely keep paper backups or only use floppy discs.

      These days… Dropbox/Google/OneDrive and the like sync to the cloud in almost real time, and cloud servers are built around incredibly redundant systems that can have multiple drives in the cluster fail and still keep all the data intact (while rebuilding mirror images on replacement drives that were hot-swapped in without powering down).

      USB drives, DVD, CD, NAS, email… Not to mention the reliability of computer systems (AHEM*microsoft windows*COUGH) has improved to the point that unless you clog your machine up with porn, malware, and other nonsense (ie: YOU, the user, are the culprit), Mac and Windows machines can be left on for days, weeks, even months (my home server, which I also use sometimes to write at with Scrivener/Dropbox, hasn’t been rebooted in seven months, and I only rebooted it then to upgrade the video card).

      Right. Long-winded bs from me again. Just sayin’… I can’t remember hearing how harrowing using a computer is for a decade other than trying to use a laptop in a car at 2:41AM to navigate your way out of an area of town that even the cops avoid, while a gang of international terrorists are chasing you in a Toyota pickup truck while shooting automatic weapons at you.

      Or when your wife/mom/sister/roommate walks in on you during one of those “intimate video” moments and it takes 19 attempts to shut the browser down and clear your screen of evidence (not to mention find that pesky MUTE button). That’s a pretty harrowing computer use experience. Well, so I’ve been told.

  4. Yeah no.
    Someone comes to the door.
    The dog is throwing up.
    Dinner is burning.
    Obviously created by a guy with no responsibilities.

    • That, or a sado-masochist.

      • Heh, it would be cheaper to wrap the power cable around your chair base/leg — push away from the desk, bye-bye work!

    • Exactly! That’s my house. Throw in a four year old and I’ve got the trifecta of sudden interruptions going.

      No way I could use that. I regularly write between 6 and 10K words a day, but I work from about 6 a.m. until about 9 p.m. with the whole day full of interruptions in that work.

      • “Ann Christy said: I regularly write between 6 and 10K words a day, but I work from about 6 a.m. until about 9 p.m. with the whole day full of interruptions in that work.”

        Bless you. More people need to be honest like this about the process. It’s the only way to fight the fear that is stopping people from even starting.

        BTW, I love your cover for _Yankari_.

  5. we also have a brain transplant that erases all memory. it was developed by special tactics military forces. For only 1B dollars for each transplant, you too could remember nothing.

    Or like me, you could just wait til you get really really old. {in my early 70s, birthday this week. People ask, “how do you feel now that you’re x years old.” Honestly, in spirit I feel 17. But. The mirror lies. lol

  6. Holy cats, that sounds horrible. Now, I could get behind an app that deletes everything if you try to go back and edit before the first draft is done. That could be useful and motivating.

  7. If this works for somebody, then great.

    But right now, I’m literally writing a novel a paragraph at a time during the two to three minutes I’m in line to pick up my son at school. I don’t want my miniscule amounts of work erased by a questionable program.

  8. This sounds like a nightmare!!! I’ve lost work by accident and that’s traumatizing enough–why in the world would I *pay* to potentially lose work? Maybe using fear to drive production works for some people, but not me.

  9. This is just stupid.

  10. In spite of its name, the WRITE OR DIE program offers a more humane version of this concept. You can set it to delete the text if you want. (I’ve never used that setting and likely never would.) With the mildest setting, the screen turns red and a pop-up message admonishes you for not writing, but it leaves your work intact. Once you start typing, the red color fades and the shaming message disappears.
    Timed writing in and of itself can be an effective tool for staying on task with your writing.

  11. If you use Write or Die, you can set it to Kamikaze mode (for free) and get the same results. Everybody tries it once, for laughs, then sets it back to normal mode (which is bad enough, but you can specify the “punishments” an intervals.)

    • Exactly. Getting scolded by my iPad’s usually all the punishment I can stand. I don’t need it deleting my work, too. 🙂

    • That sounds like a useful version.

      • It wouldn’t work for everybody, but I found it useful. A few years ago, when I first bought it, I used it quite a bit. I haven’t used it in the last year.
        When I’ve become stuck on a project or get into head games and drama over whether I’ll ever finish a project, this helps me focus on the work at hand. Sometimes using it makes writing *shudder* fun. 🙂

  12. Really, I think it’s the dumbest writing app ever. Obviously not for real writers, but for wannabes who have to be prodded to sit down and write.

  13. I hire R. Lee Ermey to stand next to me and scream in my ear about how I’m a worthless piece of maggot vomit if I don’t get my word count in. I have hearing problems now, but I’ve published 1.6 million words so far this year. Very effective.

  14. This sounds more like a kinky fetish than a writing tool.

    • “50 Lines of Text: The Deletion Trilogy”
      By: I. Luvpane
      Genre: Torturotica/Fetish

      The next “billionaire abusive boyfriend/girlfriend” craze? Sort of a cross between “Her” and “50 Shades” (and maybe “Zero Dark Thirty”?). But for writers only. I think I’ll go drink some more and start this new book.

  15. Wow. I’m literally the only person in the comments who thinks I’d like to try this. My word count is abysmal and I agonize over every paragraph. I’m also much better at revising and editing than getting words on the screen. I could probably benefit from a setting that forces me to keep writing in a stream of consciousness. I wish there was a setting like this in Scrivener. (Though 5 seconds sounds pretty harsh.)

  16. The fundamental flaw with all of this kind of nonsense is that writing is SO MUCH MORE than using your fingers on the keyboard. Most of us, I assume, write a little, then stop for a moment to think about what we’ve written and what we want to write next. A good portion of the day is spent staring at a wall trying to figure it all out.

    In my opinion, these kinds of gimmicks are simply sucker bait and do nothing to further your craft.

    • People have all sorts of writing styles. Some people write the way you do in short, well-crafted bursts. Others labor over an outline then bang out thousands of words at a sitting. For me, most difficult part is just getting _something_ on the page. I tend to agonize over every sentence and re-write my paragraphs at least twice before moving on, but the truth is that the magic for me ALWAYS happens during revisions. I’d be a lot more effective if I could just focus on getting my ideas on paper during first draft and letting the “craft” happen later. So there’s value in something like this, even if not for you personally.

      • Look, I get the value of “flow state” writing, but penalizing you by erasing your work for not constantly keeping your fingers moving is counterproductive to the whole creative process, no matter WHAT process you use.

        This app is nonsense. The best apps out there are the ones that simply cut you off from the world for chosen periods of time, so that you can actually focus on your work. We don’t need someone with a whip hovering over us. Writing is hard enough on its own.

        • We don’t need someone with a whip hovering over us.

          Did you take a survey of other writers with whom you agreed to act as their spokesperson? Asking because I’d love to see that survey to find out what everyone thinks. Or was “Do you need someone with a whip hovering over you?” the only question you asked?

      • Preston, you can try Write or Die for free, then purchase for $20 if you like it. It’s tons more flexible but still achieves what it sounds like you want/need: http://writeordie.com/#

  17. An even worse problem disguised as a “solution” to an ongoing writing problem that has a multitude of solutions devised by multitudes of writers over the centuries.


  18. That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read about. So when I’m cruising along and then pause to reflect on the next best course of action I start losing things?
    What’s next; hooking electrodes to the writer to deliver correctional jolts when he stops? I will NOT be buying this software.

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