Distraction free writing

Fascinating brain things aside, I think it’s worth noting that The Editor is the enemy of the draft process.

Pre-laptop, I used a fountain pen and legal pad to draft 3/4’s of a novel. I had to go on calls where not a lot was happening, and didn’t have access to a computer. I couldn’t go back and edit, all I could do was churn out the prose.

It turned into an extraordinary creative experience. The book didn’t get typed in, ultimately, because other projects superceded it, but I will sit down one day and turn it into something, since all the good stuff is still in brain storage.

That good stuff was the fruit of just letting my mind run on, picking up random thoughts and developing them, and what surprised me was how easily they all connected up later, in very pleasing ways.

I use this same method to this day. If it’s the stage of a project where I just need words, I just produce words. That is, after all, the hardest part for many people. There will be a certain amount of stuff that doesn’t get used, but it’s not wasted, because it will, at least in my case, lead to something else quite valuable.

Books are the product of editing, but there has to be words to work on. To turn it into something, one first must have the something.

This two tables are equal. If you do not believe me print it out and place them on top of each other. An artist can see that these areas are the same because they have learned to disconnect the left brain, but a left brain dominated person can’t see they they are same even after the measure test.

Wise words WereBear. The computer is your enemy if not used wisely. How about a text editor that doesn’t let you do any editing, once you’ve typed letter it’s there for ever :wink:. So The Three Creativity Principles!

  1. Do not edit, do not bother about spelling right, do not even look at what you’ve written, just keep putting word after word.

  2. Loose control. Say what you need to say, any old way.

  3. Do not judge, do not even think. Just keep saying what you need to say, putting word after word never looking back.

Try to write for a week, without changing any single word of what you write. You don’t have to show it to anybody. Just as an experiment, and see what it does for your writing and your voice. You might be surprised :slight_smile:.

Try this, developed by our very own Keith. Originally, it was going to be an alternate full-screen mode in Scrivener, but the idea ended up getting scrapped. However the stand-alone test application is quite stable and fun to use. You can quickly fix typos, but you cannot go back and change things that have already been typed. This is a clever solution to the problem where a seasoned computer typist unconsciously rapidly fixes mechanical errors in their typing without looking down or thinking about it. Other programs that have emulated this concept do not allow typo correction, and you end up spraying stray characters all over the place.

When I don’t have access to a typewriter, but want to have that un-editable experience, I fire up Blockwriter and then copy and paste the resulting text into Scrivener.

If make a new document, and go immediately to full screen mode before you type anything, it will attempt to emulate the look and feel of ink on paper. If you type before going into full screen, it just uses normal font rendering. So if you prefer the harsher look, start typing before going to full screen.

Thanks for directing me to BlockWriter, it is fun to use!

Could you give me links to these other programs. I would like to test them, just for fun :slight_smile:.

Unfortunately, I do not remember the names of them. You might try searching the forum, I think one of them popped up in the Software by Other Folks section a while ago.

Bob, that would be a great optical illusion if it were true. Unfortunately, it’s not:

I am an artist, and I could see instantly that the table areas were unequal. Hence I opened the graphic in Photoshop and tested it out to be sure. So I’m afraid this one doesn’t quite work.

Thanks Anthony, that’s what you get when you steal an image from Internet instead of making it on your own. Now I’ve corrected the image in the previous post.

I’ve searched on forum but found only Visual TypeWriter that seems to run on Windows. I’ve searched for the term Typewriter. Maybe some other search term would do the trick. If anybody can direct me to the text editors that do not let you edit what you’ve written please send me the link.

I might be wrong, but I think that there could be a market for a Creativity Enhancing Text Editor. Such an app would put restrictions on your Editor and promote the Creator. If you know about such an editor please tell me.

FYI, I tried bob’s dimmed screen trick the other day and set a timer for ten minutes, and churned out several messy but good paragraphs. Recommended.

Way to go, mamster! Bob’s approach is one of many ways we can practice something
I recommend in my forthcoming book. I call it the principle of separating your thinking.

By separating the generating mode from the judgment mode, you invariably end
up with more ideas and better ideas. By not consciously separating our thinking,
we tend to try to generate ideas and judge them at the same time. The result is
something like trying to drive with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake —
not only won’t you get anywhere, but you’ll probably burn something out in the process.

Any approach you can use to defer judgment while you are generating raw ideas
will improve your chances of coming up with good ones — guaranteed!

As Nobel Physicist, Linus Pauling once said:
The best way to have good ideas
is to have lots of ideas
(and then throw away the bad ones).

All the best,


tim, I would say that the generating part of my brain knows this to be true but the judgmental part keeps raising objections.




I like your terms “generating mode” and “judgment mode”. It’s better then the vague terms “Creator” and “Editor” or “Right Brain” and “Left Brain”, because the “mode” is a more precise concept. It implies that you should leave one mode and go into the next :smiley:.

The analogy with gas and brake is very telling :slight_smile:.

Thanks, Bob. Yes, I find the generative and judgment modes a useful principle. I present several
other interesting thinking concepts in the book:
• the miracle of the third third (how to get to the really good ideas we rarely reach),
• the notion of staying in the question,
• generative judgment (rather than the binary judgment we practice most of the time),
• the overarching concept of kaizen (good change) vs tenkaizen (good revolution), and
• how we often fool ourselves into thinking that “training” programs will change anything
(the last chapter of the book is titled training vs entraining) Those who’ve read the galleys have had some nice things to say about Think Better. My hope
is that it’s helpful for people.

All the best,


I’m hoping that’s the case too Tim. I’ve pre-ordered my copy with Amazon - just for the hell of it. All part of my quest to garner enlightenment from the Wisdom of the Pages.

My Best

Roy :wink:

Wow, that’s great. Thanks, Roy! :smiley:

I hope you’ll find there’s stuff in it you can use.