Writing in iA Writer

Monday, 5 November 2012

I consume a fairly large amount of text online, news articles, blog posts, reviews, tear downs, guides, pictures of kittens, etc. Recently, thanks to tools such as Evernote Clearly, I've becoming a bit of a online-reading-snob. If the design is distracting me from the main content I'm trying to read, I just flick Clearly on.

I've been getting used to it.

The trouble starts when I begin writing documents at work, or for this blog, or just simply because I feel like writing. All the programs I use just seem cluttered. Typically, I write these posts in Evernote, however even in Full Screen mode there is a lot of additional controls to distract me from actually writing…

Enter iA Writer.

iA Writer takes away any of the onscreen distractions and allows focus on the text that is being written. Designed to be minimalist, the program features nothing other than a canvas to type on. There is no distraction by setting the font, the colour, the size or the line height. Instead a comforting blue cursor blinks to indicate that you should start typing something.

I think my favourite feature of this app is the toggle called 'focus mode'. When turned on this focus mode brings to focus only the sentence which is being worked on at the moment, all the other text just fades away. You aren't distracted by the mistakes of the previous sentence, instead you can focus on getting the words on the page - you can go back and edit them later.

There are, of course, very basic ways of formatting text, you can indicate headings by prefixing lines with hashes or give emphasis to specific words or phrases by wrapping text with asterisks. But still the design of the app is to keep the focus on the writing, so your hands don't have to leave the keyboard to write lists, place emphasis or indent a block quote.

I'm just getting started with iA Writer, however I'm feeling pretty keen on it. And for the moment there is a nice discount on it in the App Store, which is one of the big reasons I chose to buy it today (yes I had been holding out for a while). Currently it is available for OS X, iPad and iPhone, and I can tell it you it is worth the pennies.

There is no love for Android or Windows at the moment, and I don't expect there to be any time soon. A couple of similar programs that might be worth looking into are Darkroom (Windows) and Qute (Android).

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