Writer’s block seems incurable at times, but honestly-named The Most Dangerous Writing App (MDWA) is trying to help writers break through it. The way it does so is straightforward: if writers stop typing in its text editor for five seconds, all of their progress will be lost.
Like timed writing apps Write or Die and Flowstate, which also delete writers’ work after a couple seconds, MDWA encourages writers to let go of their “inner editor” and get their thoughts out.
In just two weeks after its release, the app gained 100,000 users.
To start writing in MDWA, writers pick a session length (whether five minutes or an hour) and click “start.” When the text editor opens up, readers can type as much as they want and backspace as much as they want. But if they stop typing after five seconds, a red box pops up telling them, “YOU FAILED.”
And if they’re up for the challenge, there’s even a hardcore mode that doesn’t let writers see what they’ve written until the session ends.
“Do you remember the movie Speed? [The app makes me feel] like that,” says app creator, Manuel Ebert, a data scientist who runs the data consulting firm summer.ai and created the app on his own time out of procrastination. “MDWA means I don’t need coffee to make my heart race.”
“Here’s a secret: I threw this app together over two glasses of wine on a Sunday evening, when I should have been writing,” Ebert says. “So, really, this app is an elaborate piece of procrastination!”
The app allows writers to capture their stream of consciousness without overthinking. Ebert explains that this is great for journaling, which he does on the app every day.
“I think this [journaling] is one of the best applications: journalers usually already know what they will write about and just need to put it into words,” explains Ebert.
When developing and designing the app, Ebert intended it to be both brutal and simple. He referred to minimalist writing apps and his own preference for uncomplicated text editors for inspiration. Since the app’s release, some have referred to it as “terrifying” and “the app from hell,” but Ebert says some users have also reported increased productivity.
Moving forward, Ebert is planning to create a version of the app for “write-a-thons,” which are group writing sessions. Writers will have one hour to write and fans can read their words online in real time.
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