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Publetariat Dispatch: 7 Distraction-Free Writing Environments For Authors

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, offers a survey of minimalist word processor programs for writers.

As someone who writes and publishes constantly, the tools that I use are pretty important to me. I’ve written before about how the distraction-free writing enviroments that are embodied in some recent writing software really help me to focus and get a lot done in the time I have available.

So far, my favorite is iAWriter for the iPad, a program I use just about every day for the bulk of all my drafts. On the Mac I’ve been using Omm Writer Dana, another brilliant implementation of this idea.

informationArchitects just came out with their version of iAWriter for the Mac, and it’s a brilliant app. They have re-thought what they did on the iPad, and made this application just as good for the Mac.

I thought this was a great time to have a look at other programs that also try to solve the problem of too much distraction to get any writing done. Here are 7 solutions, many free, that you can try whether you’re on Windows or Mac.

Click through and check these programs out. Some offer amazing levels of customization, others are bare-bones and fixed in their format. Some try to mimic monospaced character-mode screens, others provide backgrounds and ambient music. It’s only by trying them out that you can tell whether one will work for you.

If you’ve got others to add, let me know in the comments.



Free from

“Dark Room is a full screen, distraction free, writing environment. Unlike standard word processors that focus on features, Dark Room is just about you and your text. Basically, Dark Room is a clone of the original WriteRoom that is an OS X (tiger) exclusive application.”

Darkroom for self-publishers


Free from Baara

Available in English, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish

“Q10 is a simple but powerful text editor designed and built with writers in mind. Q10 is freeware. That’s right, you can download and use it at no cost.

Q10 is small, fast and keeps out of your way. Q10 will clean your kitchen, walk your dog and make excellent coffee. Well, not really. But it’s really good as a full-screen text editor.”

Q10 for writing


Free from Iztok Stržinar in Slovenia

“Writemonkey is a Windows zenware* writing application with an extremely stripped down user interface, leaving you alone with your thoughts and your words. It is light, fast and free. With an array of innovative tools under the hood, it helps you write better. Editing is for another day … ”



Free and Donation versions from SPL

“CreaWriter is a Windows program designed to boost your productivity and creativity. Its full screen, minimalistic interface provides a distraction-free environment. Indulge yourself in a relaxed and calm atmosphere and achieve a whole new level of concentration! Inspired by OmmWriter, a Mac OS X only application, CreaWriter allows you to customize both background image and ambient sound.”


Macintosh OS X


$17.99 from Information Architects

“iA Writer for Mac is a digital writing tool that makes sure that all your thoughts go into the text instead of the program. iA Writer has no preferences. It is how it is. It works like it works. Love it or hate it. It’s unique FocusMode allows me to think, spell and write at one sentence at a time. iA Writer is fast; it works without mouse. It automatically formats semantical entities such as headlines, lists, bold, strong, block quotes written in markdown.”

iAWriter for Macintosh


$24.99 from Hog Bay Software

30-day free trial

“WriteRoom’s full screen writing environment gets your computer out of the way so that you can focus on your work. The result is a subtle clearing of the mind that I think helps you write better.”


Multiple Platforms


Free from Gott Code

“FocusWriter is a simple, distraction-free writing environment. It utilizes a hide-away interface that you access by moving your mouse to the edges of the screen, allowing the program to have a familiar look and feel to it while still getting out of the way so that you can immerse yourself in your work. It’s available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, and has been translated into many different languages.”


If you’ve never tried this approach to boosting your writing productivity,

This is a reprint from Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer.

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