What Have You Got to Lose? Everything.
As writers, for the most part, we do the good work of work: day in and out, we put the words onto the screen and the paper, scratch ideas into the dirt, and scribble on the underside of napkins. We write, take notes, observe and feel. Being so connected to words and ideas is not a choice for most but rather an extension of who we are.
As a result, we can’t help but feel emotionally connected to the process; after all we are human and not machines.
- Some days, we crack our knuckles ready to begin a new project feeling fresh and optimistic.
- Other times it’s fine, just work, we’re ticking along and all is well.
- And then there are the times when we cramp up, either from the product failing to match our expectations or from receiving a comment that gives us pause. In extreme cases, we falter entirely, the words simply no longer there, a wall suddenly grown between our ability to tick along and our ego, which most acutely feels the pinch.
Where the clean linen-crisp thought of a new white page being filled had been initially viewed with enthusiasm, when all that limitless possibility turns on you and becomes a vast daunting space, a great gaping amorphous yawn needing to be filled, all that possibility feels more like an opportunity to fail. For some, this state is just a titch too much to bear.
“The Most Dangerous Writing App” is a ruthless program designed to get you to keep your hands moving—and move you must, or else you “Fail.” It’s the ultimate push: whether you’re feeling logy, uninspired, or just need something to get your heart rate up and add a bit of zip to your day, this app is brilliant!
You can set the timer for five, 10, 20, 30, 45, or 60 punishing minutes and then– you have to type without stopping. Margaret Rhodes writes in her review of the app on Wired.com, “If you stop, even for a second, the edges of the screen become tinged with red. The longer you go without typing, the redder the edges become, until, after five seconds of inactivity, [author’s note: yes, you read that right] your progress is unceremoniously erased. Forever.”
Rhodes calls it a “Sadistic” app for a reason. You pause to sneeze or think about what to have for lunch or to consider your last sentence and it goes red, as in the color of the blood on your hands before your beautiful thoughts disappear.
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The beauty of this app is it forces a person to push past ego, past frailty, past desire and fear and the dreaded “what ifs” and just type like your fingers are aflame. As many writers know, when you push past those upper level inhibitors and let fly, that’s where the real energy lives, and where the true magic happens. And unless you suffer from hypergraphia- a behavioural disorder characterized by an obsessive compulsion to write (which noted writers Lewis Caroll, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates are reputed to have had or have currently and ought not be held up as poster people for the rest of us since “Why can’t I write a book every six months too??” is not a reasonable question), there will be the odd time when even the most stalwart of stalwarts takes a side step into reduced productivity and could use a little kick in the pants.
Being pushed by this app into that non-thinking space (no time to think!) is freeing in its way, and that’s the beauty of it. But it’s app-ly named and dangerous is right. Imagine going for broke and setting the timer for 60 minutes and losing everything because you gave in to the urge to pause? Stopped to have an opinion about the work you were doing?
If thought and feeling and lyricism and energy are ephemeral at best, this app highlights that fact to an order of magnitude. But it does bring your mortality to the fore. It might be said we need that on occasion: a jolt of recognizing that if you push yourself to make something, to override the “what-ifs” that could be the very needed jolt of mortality to re-start the car, bust through the wall, and make the story, blog, or early stirrings of that nonfiction book you’ve had in mind forever happen.
Feeling dangerous? Members can join OLP Assistant Pascale Potvin March 24th @ 9 AM for a free one hour session of using the app. Enter the free Writers’ Lounge and join your peers in our chatroom for this cathartic challenge.