It’s Fall Break! To write or not to write?

It’s November! Which either means Movember, NaNoWriMo or for the rest of us, essays. Before I start on a rant about that, happy Fall Break everyone!

That’s right, no classes today or tomorrow. It’s a new change the University of Toronto implemented. Remember Wacky Wednesday last year? It’s less complicated this year; we simply get two days off. It’s only for Arts and Science students though, so if you’re an engineering student I’m sorry about your midterms. I didn’t realize and I got the most murderous glare from my engineering friends.

Back to essays. So many due and so little time. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably tried starting to write right? Here’s what my screen looked like at 8:01pm:

And a few hours later, at 12:38am:

Absolutely no change. My room is a lot cleaner though – my desk is cleared, my books are alphabetized and there are spare garbage bags folded neatly inside my garbage can. But the essay is due in two one day, and all I’ve got is a blinking cursor. It’s mesmerizing and hypnotic but oh man, how am I going to get a couple of thousand words out?

Allow me to share a little gem with you, dear readers. It’s called Write or Die:

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.

And the consequences depend on your mood. If I need Write or Die, I need the Kamikaze mode, which is when the words start erasing itself when you stop writing.

It’s too bad the electric shock mode is unavailable. I would be the first to try it. Dr. Wicked, the founder of Write or Die, made a pretty comprehensive of screencast of the program and shows you the different modes in action:


So why is Write or Die so great?

I love it because it forces you to just type. It’s like Nike’s slogan, “Just do it!” Write or Die forces you to type continuously. You don’t have time to think about spelling or grammar (especially if you choose the Evil grace period!), and you can’t distract yourself by playing with the margins or centering the title or double spacing what you have. I know I’ve wasted so many minutes just fussing with the layout – I rationalize that I’m being productive because Word is opened to my essay, but I’m really just biding for time. On the other hand, Write or Die is threatening to delete my thoughts if I don’t keep typing, as their motto says, prodding me into productivity.

So dear readers, Danielle shared with you how she buckles down to work with the Pomodoro technique last week, and I just told you about my favourite essay helper. What do you do to get yourself studying for that midterm or to start writing that essay?

– Cynthia

2 comments on “It’s Fall Break! To write or not to write?

  1. Wow, it’s so reassuring knowing I’m not the only one with an essay due in the next few days which I haven’t even started on. I will try Write or Die…I need it.

    Thank you for the tip!

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