Why I Hate Writing Productivity Apps

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I hate the WriteorDie App.

No, I really hate it.

It’s as bad or worse than all those intrusive, creativity-killing “productivity” programs. And I have many reasons for my strong dislike….

FullSizeRender_11. If you slow down or stop, you get bombarded by loud alarms.

Yeah, this is helpful. Apparently, you can’t stop writing even for a few seconds to think. Come on–is this really good? How can this lead to good writing? You can’t even turn it off or backspace or make it stop until you keep writing.

2.You have to keep writing, unthinking, even if the words don’t make sense, for as long as you can, ideas tumbling over each other and creating an endless stream of sometimes quite meaningless words.

And did I mention there’s no time to think? That seems an obvious problem because we writers don’t always think in productive sentences. We think in a jumble and good work needs the slow pondering that keeps things more refined and meaningful.

I mean….doesn’t it?

Hmm. Wait. Maybe that’s not entirely true. Maybe the first draft doesn’t need the slow pondering so much as the freedom to be whatever it needs to be. And maybe we don’t always know what that is until we let go and let it out. Isn’t that what I’ve been taught? That we just need to get words out to start and what that requires is less thinking? Isn’t that always what I’ve been told, what I’ve even taught others myself?

Don’t judge the first draft. Just write. 

FullSizeRenderOh my. I was writing a different kind of post here. Dang it.

Maybe the reason I haven’t been writing is this same old fear. Good grief, I’m always thinking too much. I’m the same little kid who overthought everything and hated finger-painting because it would make a mess and I worry too much about everything and especially about keeping things clean and neat. And I get sidetracked by that need for everything to be perfect and manageable and orderly, thinking too much about each word and how it fits, and whether I’m pulling the threads together right and keeping readers interested.

And all the time, what I should be doing is just writing more words….

Crap. Isn’t this the reason I get tripped up and stop writing so often? When people ask if I’m writing and how the book is coming, and I have to answer “not so well,” it’s because I’m overwhelmed by all the considerations I need to make for the chapter, and I got stuck on what I need to edit to make it all work and be what I saw in my head.

But if I could just forget all that and let it be what it is, stop worrying about it so much and just write it….

I might finish. Succeed. Finally. I might still rise.

And how many times have I said this very thing? How is it possible to keep forgetting this truth, so obvious? If I could just stop worrying and write, I’d eventually train my mind to escape the crippling place of overthinking so much and just do what I know I should, what I really want to anyway–produce readable work.

FullSizeRender_2The words and sentences will eventually take care of themselves. I know this. It’s undeniable. The problem is simply habit. What you do over and over will claim you. When you write every day, you make a new habit. And this is how you rise back up and succeed. Simple as that.

Of course you can come back and edit later if needed. With first drafts, you must let it simply be crappy; you know this. Let go of every hangup and concern you have about it not measuring up and not being exactly what you meant, and just get something out. You can fix it later.

I’d meant to write something very different here. But as I wrote, I found what was better, what was truer. Why do we resist the obvious truth? Is it really out of pride and fear of being judged? Of course it is. What else? And so we forfeit the truth and get blocked and hung up again and again for weeks on end.

I don’t write what I know I must because I second-guess it when I sit down, knowing it will be disappointing to those I want to understand it most. It may even hurt them. But I have to come back to this truth over and over, be reminded of it again, even by an app I hate, just to face this frustrating reality yet again.

The Olympic Games have started this week–I’ve wondered what’s my superpower? Maybe it’s this. This is how we rise. And this could be the final time I forget, if I finally believed it and just kept on.

I could finish this book if I didn’t stop and if I ignored the doubts creeping in and stopped letting them shove out the truth I know. It could benefit so many others besides just me, all the writers I speak to, coaching them through their hangups, and work to release their full potential with every week. Don’t they also need me to keep on and commit to saying what I’ve never yet been able to?

And I regret so much that it’s taken so long. As much as I talked about believing, I haven’t believed. The strength of that regret at 42 is powerful, horrifying. Yet what will it be at 82? Don’t even my detractors, whoever they may be, don’t even they need the example of fighting to release these words? Couldn’t it even encourage them, even inspire them to commit to believing too?

We could be producing vital words, express our deepest truth and inspire others–all of this life-giving stuff–if only we’d let ourselves. This is always our choice. Can you forget the hangups and all the reasons this simple truth shouldn’t be true?

For myself, my answer is Yes. Yes, I can. I can choose it because this is God’s gift to all of us: the simple, unmerited freedom to choose. And God knows he’s paid and we’ve all paid a huge price for that inestimable gift–the most valuable gift in the world. 

The freedom to choose to believe.

So let it be. Let us rise. And let me no longer stand in the way of this responsibility I carry. I’m committed now. And somehow just doing that, it becomes less a choice than a duty.

I have chosen. Now I will write.

Thanks, WriteorDie. Now I rise.

For the higher purpose,

Mick

p.s. I used the WriteorDie program to write this post, the first draft of which took me about 4 minutes. I got no kickback from WriteorDie for this post, but I hope you give it a try, especially if you’re a doubter like me. :)

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7 thoughts on “Why I Hate Writing Productivity Apps”

  1. Mick, this post had me smiling all the way through…. I so look forward to your weekly encouragements. I’ll be praying for you–truly-that God will help you get the words out for the rest of the world to read. We need them!

    1. Thanks, again, Jody! It’s for such a greater, higher purpose…. Praying for your work today too! -M

  2. I have not tried the write or die app, but it has some pros. I think that it would make me get to the point. Pressure makes me honest. I’m reminded of the game where you say the first word that comes to mind after another person says a word. While the writing and thoughts might be crappy ( I agree they’re supposed to be anyway) getting raw and rushed might reveal some diamonds among the garbage. It’s movement forward if stuck. Like Jody, I’m rooting for you to get the words you need. Thanks for the post!

    1. Exactly–out-smarting your over-thinking tendencies seems its primary advantage. Thanks, my friend. So far, this week has been far more productive than the past several put together!!

  3. Mick!

    I have long felt your pain, the pain and frustration with your writing self I mean. And I’ve read your fledgling. AND it’s GOOD. Being a perfectionist has it’s ups and downs. Controlled, it can only work for making your work the best of the best. Me thinks you’ve got a handle on it, yes? I’m excited for you. You can DO THIS!!!!

    love,
    Suzee B

    1. Oh, I hope so! That’s so encouraging to think. Thanks, my constantly supporting friend! – M

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