I do a similar thing with code. Walking away while my code doesn't compile or a test doesn't pass is the best because when I sit down the next day my attention is already focused where it needs to be. No time wasted trying to figure out where I left off or where I should start.
> When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and is it is cool and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have writ- ten and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and you may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can hap- pen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.
However, if there is a clear boundary of work accomplished, I break the build with a simple syntax error and avoid thinking about the next task. I can step away from work completely, without any lingering thoughts, and the next time I am back at it, the syntax error helps me jump in right where I left off.
I do this by literally writing, in plain (albeit sometimes colourful) text, what I was doing at the point I had to stop. Then when I come back to it later and hit build, the compiler reminds me where I left off.
This absolutely works for me when I'm writing technical specs. Leaving some trivial bits for the next day helps to start it off faster.
Only question I have is about the content I write into your text box. Is it still mine? Is it private to everyone (even your servers)? Writing is a personal exercise and can be creatively rewarding, but only if you've got the confidence that it's still solely _your_ writing and that you control who can see it and when. The only privacy callout I see in your about section is regarding other users on the app not being able to see your content. A paragraph about what you do with the writing I put in your tool would help me not feel worried that I'm writing with someone over my shoulder who owns my words as I pen them.
Again, good work so far!
In the future I'm planning to create a desktop app, that might be the perfect solution if you really don't want your data to leave your computer.
Meanwhile, I can promise you that I will never share your data with anyone. I'm not using extra sophisticated encryption or anything like that (that would be an overkill for a writing app), but I'm using Atlas  to store your data (they're really good and competent database as a service provider), and on my end I've made sure that nobody can read what you wrote without your password.
There's no such thing as flawless security I suppose, but I'm trying to follow the best practices, so unless you're writing a short story about your social security number falling in love with your credit card pin code, or a novelization of NSA's deepest darkest secrets, I wouldn't worry too much about this =)
I've just published a beta of my new app for writers, it is a simple tool meant to help you develop a daily writing habit, track your progress, and achieve your writing goals.
I'm looking for some feedback:
- What are your first impressions? Does it look useful?
- Is the functionality easy to understand?
- What can I do to make it better? Any ideas on design, functionality, onboarding, marketing, etc would be very helpful.
- Any other thoughts/suggestions/advice?
- Consider a contrasting color for some of the elements. You have a pretty monochromatic palette and it unintentionally reads as "plain".
- Chunking. I think you can cut down that home page a ton, and get to the point clearer. It will feel more "marketing fluff" but fight that urge. It's not to make it fluffy, it's to simplify the things to parse.
For example, if you remove:
"You're looking at a very simple but powerful tool that will help you:
Develop a daily writing habit.
Massively increase your writing output.
Master the art of writing in a fun and engaging way!
If that sounds interesting - read on to learn how it works."
and start with your second paragraph, It's so much stronger:
Write every day, skyrocket your productivity
There are three ways to increase your writing productivity:
Write more consistently.
Write more words.
Let's see how this app will help you to improve each of these metrics.
I definitely should get better at writing a copy. I'll try to trim it down, make it stronger and clearer.
I'm thinking I will add a bright theme, some people may prefer it and it will have stronger contrast.
My partner is one, and she went through a project of mine the other week. So much got cut, and initially I was a bit offended. I didn't think it read like "me" any more.
Then I read it again a few days later and, holy moly, I realised how much better it was for it.
At $120 USD per year it's probably one of the most expensive and less featured text editors in the market.
How much would this cost if it was a desktop or even a mobile app? Probably much less than 1 year of the service.
We don't need to know that on your landing page. That's your business plan, and honestly you might not even follow it.
By the time you get to that point, you may have chosen to go with an ad model, or you may have added some new features that make this clearly worth $10 per month, and VERY different from Office 365.
Just remove that bit. Use this space to share with me the appeal of your tool RIGHT NOW, not the potential cost of your tool at some future point.
I'm excited to try your product. I've been struggling to get into a writing habit and definitely could use something like this!
Is this meant for authors? Is it a speed typing thing?
- Cool a new writing app. I was looking for one of those (seriously)
- The first thing i noticed was the content. My eyes totally skipped over the writing are.
- I can start typing right away. Yay.
- I can use google auth. Double Yay!
- Overall concept is easy to understand and adds value.
- kudos for releasing. That is a milestone many don't reach.
- Quite a bit too monochrome. The muted colors take away from the marketing message. On the landing page, you can get a bit more poppy and save the mutedness for the actual writing area.
- Landing page as primary interface is an interesting choice. On the plus side, you can start writing immediately, which is kind of awesome. On the other hand, your landing page content describing the hotness feels like so much clutter as a result.
- Using the landing page as the primary interface means that the typing area is quite restricted in size. I saw that you can go full screen, but I just want to have the rest of my browser window work.
- Halfway-adaptive design. Your site is smart enough to deal with browser window resizing, but why force me to a certain maximum width for writing?
- I like all the writing gamification and timing features
- The marketing content is presented in a quite dense way. You could add a lot of white space and get more 'bang' for you work. As it is, so many features are packed in that individually, they don't get the impact they deserve.
- The marketing content comes off a bit too much feature driven. Almost like it was a feature description from a spec document. You could shorten the text up and cut it down by half and get more from it.
- The design aesthetic seems to me a curious mix of muted and restrained, and yet still feels packed and cluttered. Consider adding some more white space and softening some edges.
I've got more but this is probably enough to start.
- Many people have mentioned the monochrome scheme. Some like it, some don't, I've decided that I will add a bright theme as an option.
- I will work on improving the design of the landing page, making it more concise and less cluttered. Meanwhile you can click the "About" button in main menu to hide all that information.
- The narrow width and a restricted height are a design choice, I figured it's more convenient to see the whole interface at a glance, when the window gets too large it's hard to look at all the stats. I think I should add a setting allowing people to customize this stuff.
- I will figure out how to write a better copy and improve the general UI design. I've tried really hard to make it awesome, but I think I'll need to do better. Maybe I'll ask for some advice from a professional copywriter/designer.
The main thing I didn't get a feel for was how this works as your document gets longer, or you're working on multiple documents. If you're writing a book does the whole thing end up being in the same text area and you just scroll around? Is there a save/load?
It really is a milestone many don't reach.
I've written at least daily in my blog every day since January 2011. Here are the 3,000+ posts: http://joshuaspodek.com/archives.
Some side benefits: when I applied for a column at Inc. and they asked for writing samples, I could send them thousands. My book became a bestseller.
The main benefits: thinking more clearly, ability to start new habits, self-awareness, and many personal leadership/growth things like that.
I've spent nearly zero cash on the habit.
As a daily journal-er....I'm wary of the idea that writing more words is a net-gain for writing productivity and favor the school of thought that you just pick up a pen (or keyboard) and write something for a consistent period of time, period.
Instead of writing more words, rack up more days consecutively where the conscientious decision to write something-a two sentence blurb about something interesting on your commute or a two paragraph summary of the day.
Volume will come naturally from this IMO. "Without commitment you'll never start, without consistency you'll never finish" - one of my favorite actors
I used something similar: 750words.com for a year
within few months the streak turned to torture.
There was no noticeable improvement in my adult writing skills yet I felt obliged to keep the chain going.
The happiest day of that year was when I mixed up time zones and missed one day.
Have not written anything seriously since.
It sounds like a full time job.
The problem stemmed from dearth of possible topics.
Thus my writing degenerated into some sort of free association chains reminiscent of most blogs.
Get those 750 words done and you can get on with your day!
Maybe an Edgar Wallace inspired topic generator would have been handy.
It seems like some people do get into dark places when they break their chains. I've considered several times having a limit that would prevent you from writing 30 days in a row or something.
I used to use it long long time ago.
It had other interesting features like sentiment analysis of entries. You could see for example that you were really sad that that week in december 2 years ago...
And actually, even in the case of fiction, some books have had me re-read over certain parts a few times. For e.g. Three Body Problem has parts which I had to read over, in contrast all the four Hyperion books were relatively easy to follow in audio format.
Where possible, I use audio books as a follow up after I have read the text.
But, most non-fiction books (atleast for me) work better in text format where I can pause, take notes where needed, go over the content again and proceed.
Writing with pen and paper just feels more immediate.
I also got some fountain pens a couple years ago, and I made a bit of a hobby out of it. Having nice tools makes thw work easier, and sorta motivated me to write more in the first place.
Writing on a computer also offers the additional convenience of going back in the text, and correcting something, restructuring sentences, reorganizing paragraphs. I find these things to be clumsy while writing with pen and paper. What are your thoughts regarding this?
Finally, I would like to know why do you find fountain pens nicer than ball-point pens?
First of all, I really appreciate this! I love the timed sessions that makes you keep writing.
A few things:
1. It lost a bunch of my writing. I was writing in zen-mode and went back to normal mode. I did this a few times. I do not believe I refreshed, but everything I had just written in zen-mode was lost (what I had from earlier in normal-mode was still there).
2. I wish zen-mode didn't automatically go into full-screen mode
3. I wish I could just have a normal-interface mode with a large writing area and no instructions below
4. Am I missing something or is there only 1 writing "document" per day? It seems like I should be able to save what I've written and start a new piece. Otherwise it's hard to actually develop any real content there.
Thanks again, this is really cool!
Incidentally, it would also make the subscription a much more compelling value proposition.
I have built a project that I think you might find interesting: https://fictionhub.io/
It's a writing community where you can post stories, share and receive feedback, etc.
The idea of making it centered specifically around the daily writing exercises, prompts, etc is interesting. I might be able to use the fiction hub platform to make something like that, I'll need to think about it.
My only real immediate feedback is that your initial editor gets drowned out in the monochrome color scheme among everything else on the page. I had to go hunting for it. Otherwise the "just start, then create an account" is a great workflow that I've used successfully in other places. However, most users don't understand in-browser saving versus saving on your server. I would recommend making a stronger push toward signing up for an account in order to save.
In my app I had a feature built to "ramp up" your writing. This was great because I didn't have to immediately start out writing say, 500 words a day - I could start small with 50. Once I hit that the counter goes up and the next day I have to write 60, then 70, and son on. It doesn't have to be linear, but being able to start small and increase my progress each day was much less intimidating.
Metrics help me to focus, improve my results, stay motivated. They turn sometimes difficult and confusing process into a fun game.
Like if you're writing a long novel, or trying to blog regularly - seeing a measurable, tangible progress is extremely helpful.
That's not for everyone of course, not all people need this, but some people like it.
Here's a good explanation by someone else who does this: https://www.chriswinfield.com/morning-pages/
Would be cool if you gave prompts to write about. Also not a huge fan of the UX. Lot of icons and stuff, got confused a bit.
> One very powerful way to break through the writer's block and produce more words is to deliberately separate the process of writing from the process of editing. To make this easier, you can press Alt+T to turn on the "Typewriter" mode. It will disable all the text editing options (backspace, delete, select), you will only be able to write. You can also press Alt+B to blur the text you're typing, this will prevent you from rereading what you wrote.
I'd also suggest mindfulness for writers block. Can't write? Meditate instead. Afterwards, you'll feel much more focussed.
I might as well mention that before writing streak I have built a similar habit tracking app for general types of habits:
i'd enjoy it if there were different aesthetic theme presets. the blue one is nice,but for late night writing I'd prefer something that was a deep hue of maroon. black and green or black and white terminal style would be great also.
font control would be nice, too.
you should also add a link to the main menu from the "profile" page, it's hard to navigate back as it is now.
PS: i sent you an email requesting the lifetime membership.