Write or Die (Just in time for NaNoWriMo)

Check out my Screencast Demonstration of Write or Die
or Watch on YouTube

Write or Die is a web application that encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box, as long as you keep typing, you’re fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences.

Many people find themselves unable to write consistently. I believe that this is because their reason to write is intangible. For instance, I want to write and finish a book because I want to be published and make a living as a writer. That goal is a long way away so I often find it difficult to sit down to the task of writing.

Conversely, I’m in a creative writing class for which I manage to consistently write and finish projects (albeit at the last minute). I therefore draw the conclusion:

A tangible consequence is more effective than an intangible reward.

-serif;”>If I don’t write stories for class, I will receive scorn from my teacher and a bad grade in the class. If I don’t write my own stories I am only disappointing myself. I experience perpetual disappointment in myself so I’m kindof used to it. Add to that the fact that I simply have neither the self-discipline to write consistently on my own nor the capacity for self-deception that would enable me to create artificial deadlines. That is how Write or Die was born.

The idea is to instill in the would-be writer with a fear of not writing. We do this by employing principles taught in Introduction to Psychology. Anyone remember Operant Conditioning and Negative Reinforcement?

Negative Reinforcement “strengthens a behavior because a negative condition is stopped or avoided as a consequence of the behavior.”


  • Gentle Mode: A certain amount of time after you stop writing, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.
  • Normal Mode: If you persistently avoid writing, you will be played a most unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.
  • Kamikaze Mode: Keep Writing or Your Work Will Unwrite Itself
  • These consequences will persist until your preset conditions have been met (that is, your time is up or you’ve written you wordcount goal or both)

This text box is not a word processor, it is not for editing, the way to save is to select all of the text, copy and paste into your own text editor. The idea is to separate the writing process and the editing process as much as possible.

This is aimed at anyone who wants to get writing done. It requires only that you recognize your own tendency towards self-sabotage and be willing to do something about it. If you’re sick of saccharine writing advice that no one could honestly follow and you want a real method to getting work done.

  • Works great for real deadlines too!
  • Excellent for getting your 1667 words a day for NaNoWriMo
  • Good for writing on lunch breaks, just enter 30 minutes in the time limit box

You can’t explain to a child that they should eat their vegetables or do their homework because, a long way down the road, they’ll be glad they did. You must explain to a child that if they don’t eat their vegetables or do their homework there will be dire consequences.

Your inner writer is very much like a willful child, this is how you discipline it.

Quick and Dirty SFWA Submission Links

For those who want to be accepted to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, there are a set of specific magazines in which you must publish. There is a list on their site but it is not linked to the publisher’s respective websites. I linked them which should make it easier to find and submit if SFWA membership is your goal.