Distraction free writing - woman writing at a desk

Distraction-free writing

Posted by Aoife Porter
Picture of Aoife Porter
on 28 July 2020
Tools Writing tools Writing

From emails to social media and memes to fake news, is it any wonder we find it hard to concentrate on important tasks?

There are countless distractions waiting to pull you away from your strategically planned, productive day. Now is the time to put those disastrous diversions aside and set your focus on writing some kick-ass copy.

Although there are no complete cures, distraction-free text editors are one tool that can help you stay focused on your copy.

 

What is a ‘distraction-free text editor’? 

In short, they’re simple tools that hide everything except what you are writing. Some still include your fancy formatting, toolbars and taskbar, others cut them out. There are lots of  options available, and you (more than likely) already have at least one of them at your fingertips. 

Let’s look at what’s on offer.

 

Calmly 

Calmly is a web-based text editor. It’s one of the most personalised that I’ve used. Here are some features you might like:

  • Full-screen mode. Your Microsoft taskbar and chrome toolbar are out of sight and out of mind.
  • Dark mode. White on black. It’s what the cool kids use.
  • Typewriter sound. This can go one of two ways, soothing or annoying. Don’t worry – you can toggle it on or off.
  • OpenDyslexic. The option to write in OpenDyslexic font, which improves readability for dyslexic users.

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Microsoft Word

Whether you use the desktop or online version, both are available in full-screen, distraction-free mode. 

  • Hide the ribbon. Use the hide ribbon arrow in the top right-hand corner to get rid of the formatting tools.
  • Draft or web layout. Removes page breaks and margins.
  • Full-screen mode. For desktop press Alt+V, then U. For online it’s F11. For Mac, it’s control+command+F.

 

Google docs

Google docs is really similar to word online. If you use Google docs to write, then the little tip I shared at the beginning of this article will come in handy. Enter full-screen mode (F11 or control+command+F) and you’ll be pretty much distraction-free. 

 

HubSpot 

Composer is a writing and collaboration tool which allows you to write in HubSpot distraction-free. It is available for HubSpot marketing customers. 

To activate composer, use draft mode and go from there. To begin with, you will only be able to write and add images. Once you’re done writing, you can click ‘next’ to edit and format your blog post. 

 

Wordpress

Wordpress also has a built-in focus mode. It’s pretty similar to the rest.

  • Full-screen mode. Does what it says on the tin.
  • Spotlight mode. Allows you to focus on one ‘block’ or section at a time. 

By putting your browser in full screen too, you’ll have a clean and calm environment to work in.

 

Writer

Writer is another web-based editor. The green on black text reminds me of The Matrix, which is fun. Once you create an account, you start writing. It’s just you and the words – no fancy editing tools. All your documents will be saved on the servers. 

 

JDarkRoom

For the experimenters, try JDarkRoom. It’s got some nifty additions.

  • Scrollbar. Unlike in Q10 (below), the text does not appear static.
  • Formatting. Supports rich text and formatting (bold, italic).
  • iPhone version. You can use it on your iPhone when you’re out and about.

Q10

Q10 is a lightweight and intuitive free program. Its features include:

  • Built-in timer. Set it and write; it’ll tell you when to take a break.
  • Portability. You can run the program from a USB.
  • Customisation. You can choose the colours for the background and text.
  • Memory. No matter whether you save your writing or not, the next time you open Q10 your most recent article will appear
  • Differential word count. It can keep track of how many words you write in each session.

There’s no scroll bar, but you can use arrow keys or page up and down keys to move through the text. Other than that, there are no tragic flaws in the software. 

Bonus tip: If you really want to get in the zone, turn off notifications. Use focus assist on your Microsoft device or PC or do not disturb mode on your Mac device.

Maximising returns

When it comes to transcribing ideas from your head to the computer screen in a calm environment, these tools and tips are where it’s at. 

Using the right editor is only a part of the equation, though. There’s more advice where that came from: check out the 22 essential tips to help you concentrate on writing

The moral of the story? Good writing often results from a simple and calm environment. Get rid of those distractions as soon as possible, and get writing.

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[Editor’s note: this article was originally written by Jan Felt in 2009. It has since been updated and republished in May 2020.]





See also: how to write

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