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However, computers can also be a huge distraction. Sure, your research might be just a click away – but so is Facebook. If you’re having trouble with distractions while trying to crank out some copy you might be interested in FocusWriter, a barebones word processor aimed at reducing distractions.
All Words, All The Time
As the name of FocusWriter suggests, this little applications is all about getting you to FOCUS!
Once launched, FocusWriter takes over your entire screen. You can, of course, minimize or exit FocusWriter at any time, but the program otherwise will stay on top of your desktop and will not give you any room to open additional windows. Most modern computers are paired with displays that offer far more room than you need to write, but that’s the point of FocusWriter. By eating up your desktop space you won’t be able to keep Word open on the left side of your display while you watch Youtube videos on the right.
The default settings of FocusWriter are very dull – pure gray on gray. However, you can spice things up a bit by adding your own backgrounds, which is accomplished by accessing the Theme menu. Once there, you’ll find three tabs; background, foreground and text. Background lets you change the color of the background or use an image. Foreground will let you change the width of the usable text editing space and also change the positioning, margin size and padding. Text makes it possible to select different fonts and font colors.
Setting Your Daily Goal
Setting a daily goal is very important if you’re finding that you have trouble writing consistently. FocusWriter helps you with this the ability to define your goals in the program. You can define your goal either by time or by word count. For example, let’s say you choose the default word count of 1000 words per day. If you move your cursor to the bottom of FocusWriter a toolbar will pop up, and to the right of that toolbar you’ll see how far you’ve progressed towards you daily goal. The goal counter can exceed 100%, as well, so you can take pride when your fingers are on fire and you blow past your daily goal!
This same toolbar has other useful information that may be related to what you’re writing such as total word count, page count, paragraph count and character count. Although these feature are simple, the ease with which they can be accessed makes it very easy to keep tabs on what you’re working on without the chance for distraction.
Another related feature is the ability to set a timer, which is done by going navigating to Tools -> Timers. Focusing on your writing is great, but it shouldn’t make you late for an important meeting. A timer can remind you when it is time to stop.
Sessions and Other Features
FocusWriter supports a feature called sessions, which is similar to the tab feature found on a web browser. This is FocusWriter’s way of dealing with the fact that the minimal interface doesn’t include any way to easily switch between windows, and thus documents – as that would be defeating the point.
New sessions can be accessed by going to File -> Sessions. Current sessions can also be managed from the same menu. Each session is simply a separate document. FocusWriter remembers the sessions you have open even after you close the program and will automatically make the sessions available when you next launch the program.
FocusWriter isn’t the best word processor for writing research papers, but it is excellent for creative writing. The elimination of distractions helps keep your mind on your writing instead of your friend’s Twitter feed. If you’re a writer and you have any tips that can help fellow word-smiths deal with distraction, feel free to share them in the comments!
FocusWriter is an open source program. It is available for Mac OS X, Windows and several versions of Linux. Jackson has also looked at several other distraction busters in the past – 6 Apps To Help You Focus & Be Productive [Mac] and Get Over Writer’s Block With OmmWriter, A Zen Distraction-Free Writing App [Mac].