By Dale Bond
Though the semester has barely begun, students are undoubtedly already overwhelmed by the assortment of papers, discussion posts, and short essays filling their syllabuses. But don’t fret, and don’t put those assignments off until the last minute, either! The internet offers ample websites to aid in your fight against the clock, procrastination, and that dreaded word count.
Do you work best when offered some kind of motivation? Then Written? Kitten! is the writing aid for you! You can set the word count at 100, 200, 500, or 1000, and after your goal is reached, an adorable kitten appears for you to enjoy! Accidentally closed your tab? No problem! Written? Kitten! saves whatever you’ve written in the browser, allowing you to safely type away without fear. Kittens aren’t your thing? Written? Kitten! can also be customized to show you pictures of puppies, ponies, bunnies, or anything else you find adorable. Just change the URL to writtenkitten.net/?search=[reward of choice] and enjoy the cute!
Write or Bite
Write or Bite is very similar to Written? Kitten! – accept for one minor detail. Here, you have a time counter in addition to the word counter. If you reach your word count goal? Great! You get a cute puppy! But if you’re too slow? Then the hounds are released – literally. A scary picture of an angry, growling dog appears. This writing aid is for those who need a bit more prodding to get their work done than the promise of a cute animal.
Don’t Look Back
Do you find yourself constantly going back through your paper to make minor changes before you’ve even finished writing it? Don’t Look Back can help. Compatible with your favorite word processor, text editor, and screen writing software, this app will essentially disable your backspace/delete key. You won’t be able to make any changes until you’ve finished the paper, allowing your creative mind to flow freely. The downside to this writing aid? It only works with Macs. If you don’t happen to own an Apple computer, then why not try…
Like Don’t Looking Back, Ilys works to keep your creative mind and your editing mind separate. In the case of Ilys, you set a word count, and then write without seeing the body of text unfold. All you get to see is the last letter you’ve typed. Ilys does have the option to peek at what you’ve written so far, but you can only proceed to an editing screen once you’ve hit your word count goal. Like Written? Kitten!, Ilys also saves your progress in the browser, so there’s no need to fear if you accidentally lose your page.
Is your issue that you just can’t focus on your writing, and keep getting distracted? Check out Final Deadline – a series of writing aids that have you race against the clock to get all of your thoughts down on paper. There’s a character development exercise that asks you rapid-fire questions about your character, which you only have seconds to answer. For drafts, you can set a time counter for uninterrupted writing, with a screaming alarm that sounds if you pause too long to over think what you’ve written. Finally, there’s the Sharp Edge application, which is the ultimate motivation for a writer – you put your own money on the line, and it is taken away if you don’t reach your deadline. With this real-world consequence, you can be more than motivated to accomplish your writing goals. Final Deadline has even more writing aids to help you meet your own deadlines, so check out the site for all the details.
Write or Die
The 2.0 version of this popular writing aid has just about everything to motivate you to get your writing done. You can choose to either receive a reward picture and sound, or suffer a consequence. These consequences can include not only a scary or unsettling picture and/or sound, but allow for “startle mode,” which doesn’t warn you before the stimulus happens, and “kamikaze mode,” which, if you stop writing, will actually unwrite your words until you begin typing again. You can set the consequences and rewards to continue after you reach your goal, slow down, or stop altogether. You can set a word goal or time goal, and customize your writing space. Write or Die allows you to create the writing environment that best helps you reach your goals, whether that’s a game where you race against the clock and never stop typing, or a mellow writing session with beach sounds and kitties. You can try it for free via the website, and then download the full app for $20 if you’re ready for the ultimate writing aid.
If none of these resources are for you, then check out the university writing center located in Old Main 132 for one-on-one writing assistance, or head into Rohrbach Library and find exactly what your looking for with the help of our friendly librarians.