Write like mad with WriteMonkey

Quit aping around and eliminate distractions that keep you from writing with WriteMonkey, which brings the focus of the typewriter without losing some of the best tools from computers.

This lightweight and portable program is similar to other focus-driven programs like Dark Room or Q10. Still in beta, WriteMonkey can be run in a window, but the intent of these one-hit writing tools is to be used at full screen, eliminating distractions.

WriteMonkey can be minimized to a window, maximized to full screen, and comes with a handy jumplist for paragraphs and in-document bookmarks.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

There are a couple of things that WriteMonkey does very well. First off, all the major program commands are accessible from the right-click context menu. When the program loads in full-screen mode, you can easily minimize it into a window by right-clicking and choosing the first option, "Toggle fullscreen/window." Once in window mode, WriteMonkey's menubar appears, and in the menubar options are listed with their respective hot keys. So, with little effort, it's possible to acclimate to WriteMonkey's environment and learn how to manipulate it without always going to the menus.

WriteMonkey offers some useful tools for writers, too. You can automatically import text from your clipboard, and a Markup Export option makes it a slick Notepad replacement, if that's where you do your coding. Wiki-style tools are used to bold, italicize, and underline and text. *Asterisks* are for bolding, _single underscores_ are for italics, and __double underscores__ activate underlining. Using the standard hot keys for those tasks will work, too.

Unfortunately, once you've exported the text, you'll need to use your Replace tool to convert the marks to proper bold, italics, and underline, but at least there's a familiar implementation of these basic features. WriteMonkey supports symbols, too, so you don't have to worry about going back to put in your accent aigus or accent circonflexes after you've finished your document.

A jump feature makes for quick and multicolored access to your paragraphs, without having to mouse or arrow-key your way through. You can also bookmark various points in your document for faster jumping. Left-click in the top or bottom margins to jump a page up, or click and hold down the mouse button in the left or right margins to quickly scroll through your document.

You can customize the color of the document as well, or set WriteMonkey to choose colors at random when you start the program. Occasionally fun, randomizing the colors is also a fast way to induce a migraine.

There's also a "repository" feature that functions as an alternative document. Conceptually, you could argue that it kind of breaks the idea of a uniform workspace, but at the same time it's nice to have a hot-key accessible, long-form clipboard to handle notes and other text without having to open a new window. Essentially, it works like a tab without being a tab.

A customizable progress bar can be activated, showing word or character counts, and comes with an optional timer if you want to write without stopping. These features only serve to reiterate the writing focus of the program, and are easily toggled via F12.

Besides the obvious limitations in a program that's designed to encourage a laser-like focus in your writing, WriteMonkey could strongly benefit from having a basic installer. The program is portable, taking up about 3MB total, but comes in a ZIP and needs to be extracted into its own folder. A self-extracting EXE would give WriteMonkey a much easier installation process. A lock feature that would prevent you from switching out of it would truly eliminate distractions.

These are quibbles, though. WriteMonkey won't make an ape of your desire to focus on writing, as long as you bring the drive and the talent.

CNET Top 5
Companies Apple could buy with their billions
Apple's sitting on a massive pile of cash. Here are five interesting ways they could spend it.
Play Video
 

Member Comments