Cosy and distraction-free writing: review of Write!

This week, I had a pleasant surprise: the developpers of a new writing app called Write! contacted me and asked me to try the app out and mention it on my website. My site doesn’t regularly host reviews, even less of apps, but, being a writing geek, one of the things I love is to try out new apps that aim to ease the writing process and productivity in general. Thus, I did not hesitate at all. In a few hours, I had already downloaded Write! and started exploring it with merry curiosity. So, what makes this app different to other writing software?

Concept

From my point of view, the app’s goal is to give the writer a distraction-free experience, as well as a powerful tool for organising her notes and documents. Let us see how this is achieved:

Environment

Write! offers a uniquely minimalistic user experience. Using the least of information, it gives the option of using Tabs (one for each open document), Folders (for grouping documents), and Sessions (a way of opening an ensemble of prechosen documents from various folders). By choosing the Full Screen mode, the environment becomes even more spartan, with only the text window visible, while the tabs discreetly slide off-screen. With two tiny (I mean tiny) round buttons, the user controls the appearance and disappearance of the two elegant sidebars, resulting if needed to a screen that shows the document’s text only. If this is not distraction-free, I don’t know what is.

Sidebar small
Full Screen small

Why not add to the positive elements of the user experience the Dark Theme, a soothing grey much more relaxing to the eyes than the classic white – I was instantly hooked – as well as the option to Enable Typing Sounds, that accompanies the typing with nostalgic typewriter sounds, either mechanical or electric. The latter is obviously more playful than useful feature, but I have to admit that since I discovered it I keep it on constatly. (Even at this moment, writing this post next to my sleeping son, I have put on my earphones so that I don’t miss the tac tac sounds!)

Cloud

The app allows saving documents on the hard drive, as well as on Write’s own cloud. For local management, the files are saved as various formats, with the principal one being that of the app itself (.wtt), while one has more options with Export. For the time being, I have been saving exclusively on the app’s cloud, without any problems.

Save As small

Spell-Checker

Write! comes with an embedded spell check tool for several languages, including Greek – which obviously interests me particularly.

Usability

Since I downloaded it, I keep Write! open constantly on some window of my laptop. Until now, I have started using it for various documents, some for composing emails, quick notes, gags, thoughts, as well as the synopsis of a feature film. During the few days of its intensive use, I did not attempt to start a more grandiose project than the above (eg. a… novel?). Nevertheless, my impression is that the app’s power lies on writing and organising notes, as well as writing first drafts of medium-sized projects. The reason for this impression comes from the fact that Write! is a linear writing tool. Yes, it organises its files in an excellent way, but the file is still the smallest unit used by the app. Thus, if a file augments in word count, it makes it very easy for the writer to get lost in the text, as much as in a Word document. For larger projects, I still consider a non-linear writing app as an essential (like Scrivener, which gives the ability to break down the text in as little and as many bits as desired – I often feel like breaking a scene down into beats – and it saves each project as a bundle with all the accompanying elements packed within, be they text or images). Of course, this strays the conversation towards a very different kind of app – and obviously not a distraction-free one, since Scrivener’s menus admittedly require a strong stomach. On the contrary, Write’s developpers aim to offer a combination of abilities and a cosy and simple environment, creating an app that inspires more dionysian writing storms than meticulous editing. And they achieve it a hundred per cent.

Thelma and Louise: an objection

Θέλμα και Λουίζ: μια ένσταση

(null)

My only objection with the film has to do with the fact that Thelma’s husband is a one-dimensional buffoon. Η μόνη μου ένσταση με το φιλμ έχει να κάνει με το ότι ο σύζυγος της Θέλμα είναι ένας μονοδιάστατος καραγκιόζης.

Summertime

Καλοκαίρι

(null)

While I was writing next week’s newsletter, I was distracted by voices and sounds from my next door neighbour, who was playing basketball.

Summer is here. Nevermind the rain, two nights ago.

Καθώς έγραφα το newsletter της επόμενης εβδομάδας, μού αποσπούσαν την προσοχή οι φωνές και οι ήχοι του γείτονα, που έπαιζε μπάσκετ.

Το καλοκαίρι έφτασε. Δεν πειράζει που έβρεξε πριν δυο νύχτες.

The power (and limits) of pitching

Η δύναμη (και τα όρια) του pitch

Endless Orgy for the Goddess of Perversion

A couple of days ago, in our local supermarket, a promo-lady (or whatever they are called) pitched us a new unknown fizzy drink. The pitch was not bad; it pivoted on a couple of keywords relevant to healthy living, the thing was on offer, too, so we got hooked. We bought two cans in the price of one.

At home, when I tasted the thing, I discovered that it was horrible; it tasted like cough syrup.

The moral of the story: pitching is essential to draw the customer’s attention to your product. Nevertheless, this is as far as a good pitch will take you. After that, your product better be good. The promo-lady would not have much to reply to a complain of mine along the lines of “But it tastes like cough syrup; I hate cough syrup.”

Πριν δυο μέρες, στο σούπερμάρκετ, μια από τις προωθητικές δεσποινίδες που συχνάζουν σε τέτοια μέρη μάς έκανε pitch ένα άγνωστο αναψυκτικό. Το pitch δεν ήταν κακό· πάτησε σε μια δυο λέξεις κλειδιά σχετικές με υγιεινή διατροφή, ήταν και σε προσφορά… Τσιμπήσαμε. Αγοράσαμε δύο κουτάκια στην τιμή του ενός.

Όταν, στο σπίτι, άνοιξα το ένα κουτάκι για να το δοκιμάσω, βρήκα ότι το αναψυκτικό ήταν απαίσιο· έμοιαζε με σιρόπι για τον βήχα.

Το ηθικό δίδαγμα της ιστορίας: το pitch είναι απαραίτητο για να δώσει ο πελάτης την προσοχή του στο προϊόν σου. Ωστόσο, ένα καλό pitch θα σε πάει μέχρι εκεί. Από εκεί και ύστερα, καλά θα κάνει το προϊόν σου να κρατήσει τον πελάτη. Η κοπέλα δε θα είχε πολλά αντεπιχειρήματα να απαντήσει στο δικό μου “Μα, έχει γεύση σα σιρόπι για τον βήχα· μού τη σπάει το σιρόπι για τον βήχα.”

Do I have a problem with symbolism?

Έχω εγώ πρόβλημα με τον συμβολισμό;

Playground

I often say that I am against symbolism. It is not true. I say this to avoid long explanations, when I don’t have time for them.

In fact, I only have a problem when a director uses symbolism instead of reality. In other words, I am very happy with symbolism when it keeps itself to a second layer, the layer of ideas, letting the first layer to realistic action. I strongly believe that any story should have a first, easy to follow storyline, no matter what its symbolism is, if any. Thus, every audience member, even if blind to the symbolic references, can take something home.

If there is no such first layer, then, yes, I do have a problem. That is when the story loses me. I hate artistic pretence and I will not put on any intellectual monocle in order to say “Oh, that’s symbolic, that’s why.” Symbolism is nothing’s reason. Symbolism explains nothing. It accompanies an action, it reinforces an idea, yes, but it never makes something out of nothing.

If there is no fascinating story, don’t expect me to stick around because of a few symbols. Even religions know better than this.

Λέω συχνά ότι είμαι κατά του συμβολισμού. Δεν είναι αλήθεια. Το λέω για να γλιτώνω τις πολλές εξηγήσεις, σε στιγμές που δεν έχω πολύ χρόνο.

Στην πραγματικότητα, πρόβλημα με τον συμβολισμό έχω μόνο όταν ένας σκηνοθέτης κάνει προσπάθεια να αντικαταστήσει με αυτόν την πραγματικότητα. Με άλλα λόγια, δεν έχω πρόβλημα όταν ο συμβολισμός βρίσκεται σε αυτό που λέμε δεύτερο επίπεδο ανάγνωσης, αφήνοντας το πρώτο επίπεδο ανάγνωσης ελεύθερο για τον ρεαλισμό. Μια ιστορία θεωρώ ότι οφείλει να είναι κατανοητή σε πρώτο επίπεδο, ώστε ακόμη και ο θεατής/ακροατής που δεν έπιασε τις συμβολικές αναφορές να φύγει κερδισμένος.

Αν δεν υπάρχει πρώτο επίπεδο πέραν του συμβολικού, ναι, τότε είναι που έχω πρόβλημα. Τότε, συγγνώμη, αλλά η ιστορία με χάνει. Απεχθάνομαι την καλλιτεχνική προσποίηση και δε θα φορέσω το διανοουμενίστικο μονόκλ μου για να πω με περισπούδαστο ύφος “ω, μα αυτό είναι συμβολικό, γι’ αυτό.” Ο συμβολισμός δεν εξηγεί τίποτα. Συνοδεύει τις πράξεις, ενισχύει τις ιδέες, ναι, αλλά ποτέ δε δημιουργεί κάτι από το τίποτα.

Αν δεν υπάρχει ενδιαφέρουσα ιστορία, μην περιμένετε να κρατήσετε το ενδιαφέρον μου με μερικά σύμβολα. Ακόμη και οι θρησκείες ξέρουν ότι αυτό είναι αδύνατο.

Small thank-you note to the Screenwriters Guild of Greece

Ένα μικρό ευχαριστώ προς την Ένωση Ελλήνων Σεναριογράφων

Many thanks to the Screenwriters Guild of Greece and their tech support team!

Last weekend, I had a small issue registering a screenplay. I emailed them and was expecting not to hear from them before Monday. On the contrary, I got both an answer and the problem solved within 24 hours. Well done, guys!

For those who don’t know it, the SGG’s website features a screenplay (or play or treatment, etc) registration service for copyright protection, which is extremely helpful and very reasonably priced. Visit them, here.

Ένα θερμό ευχαριστώ στην Ένωση Ελλήνων Σεναριογράφων και την ομάδα τεχνικής υποστήριξής της!

Το προηγούμενο Σαββατοκύριακο, είχα ένα μικρό προβληματάκι, κατά την κατοχύρωση ενός σεναρίου. Τους έστειλα email και περίμενα ότι δε θα έχω απάντηση πριν από τη Δευτέρα. Αντιθέτως, πήρα απάντηση, καθώς και λύση στο πρόβλημά μου, μέσα σε 24 ώρες. Μπράβο, παίδες!

Για όσους δεν το ξέρουν, η ΕΣΕ προσφέρει διαδικτυακή υπηρεσία κατοχύρωσης σεναρίων (ή θεατρικών ή treatment, κλπ), ιδιαίτερα χρήσιμη και σε πολύ λογικές τιμές. Επισκευτείτε την εδώ.