As a writer, I desperately need a laboratory, a place of creation, where I can experiment with words and ideas stress-free. Supposedly that’s why we have computers but my Mac is at best a kind of file cabinet where I can document, polish and store ideas I already came up with while away from my desk.
But the real problem is that we depend so heavily on our computers for our work even though they’re constantly connected to distracting forces, like email or Facebook, that pull us away with their siren-calls.
For a long time I’ve searched for a place where I can focus on one writing piece, distraction-free. The following image conveys the kind of peaceful professional space I’ve failed to find working in applications like Final Draft or Word:
It’s a minimalist text editor, offering few formatting options, but the simple backgrounds and Zen-like ambiance allow you to concentrate on your work and thoughts as if you were in your very own dojo.[vimeo http://vimeo.com/7670108]
It’s not meant for large projects, but I think awesome for a small piece or scene you’re tinkering with – at least that’s what I’ve found in my own experiments.
I’ve been using it to break free from the confines and distractions of more robust programs. You don’t need all the formatting tools of a word processor when the raw material itself needs work.
Sometimes I’ll type the same sentence over and over again (with the optional typewriter sound effects) and just tweak a word or the rhythm of the sentence.
I’ll leave you with a short case-study: here’s a ‘before & after’ example from my own work-in-progress screenplay Shelter.
Here’s the opening scene, introducing a major character and setting the tone:
EXT. SOUTHERN IRAQI DESERT – DAY, 1987
A 13-year old boy with long, golden hair lies belly-flat on the sand. In his hands is an old hunting rifle, his eyes taking aim down the barrel. His name is LOIZA.
Next to him lies his white dog, ABELA, half-asleep from the wait.
Loiza’s small finger wraps around the trigger, and we see in his sights a distant four-legged animal. He pulls the trigger and the creature falls –
Abela leaps up and sprints towards the prize. Loiza stands and follows, his long hair dancing slightly with the wind.
(I felt is was weak so I copied and pasted the scene into Ommwriter and worked on improving the imagery and language.)
EXT. DESERT – DAY, 1987
A breeze blows against the desert surface like a soft breath, pushing it grain by grain, leading us to a small finger wrapping around a trigger. The other hand cradles the barrel.
The set of hands belong to boy with long, blond hair – LOIZA (13) – who aims down the barrel-length towards a distant, moving shape.
He lies on his belly with a white dog nuzzled by his side.
The weapon, the boy and the dog combined lies motionless for a moment against a gust of wind.
He fires, his prey falls and the dog leaps to a sprint towards it.
Loiza stands and follows the dog’s lead as the wind continues to play with strands of his golden hair.
It’s not perfect, but working with the app really helped me focus on the moment and the effect of each individual word.
Hope this helps you in your own creative endeavors –