Why I like WriteRoom

Over on the 'log, Graham asked:

"scrivener looks wicked-cool, but writeroom looks like fullscreen Emacs without all the text-editing goodness. Any chance you'll blog on why you like it?"

I do much or all of my "serious" (aka "paid") professional prose writing in Scrivener. It lets me collocate my writings, offers a great writing mode, and generally stays out of my way and Just Works. Still, I've spent many a lengthy night starting at the BLANK SCREEN OF DEATH any writer's faced when they're just struggling to begin that journey of fifteen-to-twenty-two-hundred words with that first word put down. When I'm on one of my OSX machines, Scrivener's full-screen mode clears away distractions and makes it easier to get off the schneid. Before I found Scrivener, WriteRoom did this for me, and version one was free-as-in-beer, I think... I never paid for it, in any case (though I gladly paid for a license for Scrivener).

Sometimes (like, say, for example, from 8:30-5pm on days between Monday and Friday, just to pick a few :), though, I'm stuck on a windows machine with no Scrivener access. Fortunately, there's Dark Room, which is basically WriteRoom for windows, but even better, because it's (IIRC) GPL'd.

So, to answer your question, it's saved my tuchus on numerous occasions, and it led me to other apps with similar features which continue to save my tuchus, so I gladly recommend 'em all.


good tip

Thanks for the scrivener pointer Dan.

Ask and ye shall receive!

Thanks for the post, Dan! From now on, I'm going to add "dchud: want to blog about this?" to all my unalog posts. :-)

Being a rabid Emacs user, running Linux and a minimalist window-manager on my laptop, I generally do the same thing with Emacs as you did with Darkroom. On a borrowed Windows machine, if SSH is available (PuTTY is an easy install, and has a full-screen mode) I'll shell in to a Emacs-laden server and do the same thing.

I don't think I'd recommend this to anyone who didn't already use Emacs (and Linux or SSH) in their daily grind: it's a powerful combo with great returns, but a heavy learning curve. (And worse, those who swing the Emacs hammer may forget how to hit nails with anything else...)

Nearly went the Emacs route

I agree with your Emacs-recommendation hesitation. I nearly became an all-Emacs-all-the-time person too, back in 1999 or so, but the constant key-chording seemed like a bad idea, so I stopped before it became a serious habit. Nine years and two major hand/wrist/arm pain flare-ups later, I have to guess that was the right decision.

These days I do 95% of serious code writing in vim with ssh and screen. That's just fyi, not an attempt to start a flame war. :)