Doogie Howser M.A.C.


So this is what it feels like to be the man. A real man. A DOOGIE man. Since I was a kid, I always wished I typed my journal into a computer just like I was a 14 year old prodigy doctor. Now thanks to HogBay Software’s WriteRoom (and a little editing of the preferences) I can.

WriteRoom is a great implementation of a good idea. A while ago Khoi Vinh professed the need for a distraction free writing environment. WriteRoom isn’t a direct implementation of Vinh’s idea, Blockwriter, but it’s based around the same leading principle, get everything out of the way and turn your $2,500 Mac into a typewriter. This seems kind of backwards, but it works. People (read: Aaron Quint) are easily distracted when sitting at a computer trying to write. As operating systems become more complicated and more icons are bouncing and more growl notifications are appearing everywhere, its way to easy to loose your train of thought. WriteRoom forces you to see nothing but the words.

I’ve been using it for blogging (the majority of the in-depth writing I do these days) and Its been working great. Almost two great. The other day I was late to meet a friend because I completely lost track of time while writing a post. Since WriteRoom hides the menubar and hence the clock, what seemed like 15 minutes was actually an hour. The one major component of Vinh’s Blockwriter that WriteRoom doesn’t implement, is the no-backspace functionality of a typewriter. To Vinh, one of the key aspects of the process of getting you writing is not letting you go back and delete. You can strike through, but by spending less time refining and more time actually typing there are less forces slowing your fingers down. I think that this would be a great option for a future version, I’d really like to try it out (perhaps something you can turn on in preferences).

I found out about WriteRoom from a 43Folders post. There are other alternatives which I’ve yet to put to good use, like MegaZoomer (and here) which adds a view option to many applications, allowing you to hide everything but the main window. (Combine this with TextMate for distraction free nerding.)

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