When you try to write a novel, distraction and procrastination are your worst enemies. That’s why many writers prefer to write on a separate computer or something like the FreeWrite or the AlphaSmart to make sure that Twitter, TikTok and Co are not easily accessible.

FocusWriter is a simple, completely distraction free word processor that hides everything away (including your Taskbar and even its own menus and status bar). All you can see is the dreaded blank page. Maybe that sounds scary to you. Maybe it sounds like something you don’t need. But I urge you to try it out. For me, FocusWriter was a real game changer, especially when I try to produce words fast, like during NaNoWriMo.

It is possible to set your own background image and to adjust the page and font color to something that suits your eye without that influencing the document itself. So you can create almost a virtual room that fits the mood of your story and immediately pulls you in as soon as you open the software.

As I said, by default all menus, toolbars etc. are hidden away and only appear if you hover the mouse over them. You can save your document in plain txt, ODT or RTF format (I usually use the latter because it can be easily imported everywhere else). You can set a daily word count goal, track your progress and even set timed alarms for pomodoros. That makes the FocusWriter the ideal tool to use for writing sprints during NaNoWriMo.

Formatting options for the document itself are rather limited, if you are someone who needs the document to look like the finished book page from the start, FocusWriter might not be for you. I usually only write the very first draft in FocusWriter and then copy it over to Papyrus Author for revisions and editing. I will tell you more about Papyrus in a future blog post, because it is an excellent tool as well. It even has a distraction free mode on board, but I still prefer FocusWriter for the fast drafting, because it is cleaner and very lightweight.

FocusWriter usually remembers the last writing session and opens up the document exactly where you left it on starting the program. So you can hop write back into writing. It really made me more productive than any other word processor I tried before or after.

FocusWriter is developed by Graeme Gott. It is free and open source and is available for both Windows and Linux. Download it, try it out and if you like it and continue to use it, consider making a donation to the developer through his webpage. I think he deserves it.

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  1. […] the last two installments of this series I introduced you to the tool I use for planning and the tool I use for writing a first draft. But as brilliant as it is to write “The End” under your first draft, it is actually […]

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