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Tech Tuesday, March 2nd 2010 at 4:40 pm

Write or Die: Web App Forces You To Write Your Target Amount, or Else

Procrastinators, students with midterms coming up, and (erm) bloggers, this may be for you: Write or Die is a simple, nefarious application, available on the web or for desktop use, which effectively forces you to keep writing — or suffer the consequences.

Here’s how it works: you tell the program how many words you need to write in how long a timespan, and if you meet your target, all is well. But if you slack off, there are consequences:

Write or Die has three levels of consequences for procrastinators: on “Gentle Mode,” a text box pops up and tells you to keep writing. On “Normal Mode,” the program plays “an unpleasant sound” until you get back to work. The one that’ll really terrify grad students who just need to get in one more game of Text Twist, though, is “Kamikaze Mode”: if you don’t keep writing to your target, Write or Die will delete your writing without remorse.

The app’s author lays out his no-nonsense, Pavlovian philosophy:

A tangible consequence is more effective than an intangible reward.

The idea is to instill in the would-be writer with a fear of not writing. We do this by employing principles taught in Introduction to Psychology. Anyone remember Operant Conditioning and Negative Reinforcement?

If writing upon pain of deletion appeals to you, here’s Write or Die’s webpage; if you are an other-directed voyeur, you can also Tweet out your amount of productive writing. (Remember: save it for when you’ve finished.)

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