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Zen Again: 5 Tools for Distraction-Free Writing

Want to marinate in positive juju? Take a trek to Sedona, Arizona. I recently spent four blissful days there myself at what some might call a woo-woo women’s retreat. If you’re not familiar with this surreal spot, Sedona sits in the lap of a high desert region where ankle-high prickly pear cactus and ancient, gnarly-barked junipers play in the shadows of brilliant reddish-orange peaks. The town is known for its vortex sites—powerful swirls of energy that bellow from the ground below and are believed to strengthen the well-being of those who walk within their path. In a word, Sedona is magical.

So coming back to reality after soaking in soul-nourishing natural beauty and humming a communal Kumbaya every night before bed (no, we didn’t do that, gaaah) was, well, scary. How does one return to the world of fluorescent lights, pleather chairs and CEILINGS without losing that loving feeling? I suppose the answer lies in working with what you’ve been given and given that it’s raining today, I’m grateful for said ceiling. I’m also grateful for these five online writer tools for, at the very least, purging my mind and desktop of clutter and distractions. Not sure what to do about the pleather and flurescents but I’m leaving that up to the universe for now.

1. Black out: DarkCopy

If a blank white page gives you instant pit sweat, go black. DarkCopy is an extremely simple, free tool giving you a distraction-free space to write. You can’t even be distracted by features because, other than toggling between a full screen and window, there are none. Just let the words flow, Grasshopper.

Distraction-Free Writing (DarkCopy)

2. Tune out: MyNoise.net

In the world of learning styles, I am 99 percent auditory—meaning that I hear EVERYTHING and to focus, I either need white noise or complete silence (find out what you are).  If you’re auditory, you also like to sing out loud and proud to your favorite tunes, thus keeping you from working and torturing everyone around you. MyNoise.net is the best site I’ve found for meditiative, rythmic sounds that tune out office noise without distraction. MyNoise.net offers tonal sounds that you can adjust to your preference. I listen to Indian Drones in the morning for a feeling of sustained energy. If your office is hot and stuffy, listen to Wind Noise. I swear it sends a chill right up your spine. If you’re always cold, turn on The Fireplace. You’ll warm right up.

MyNoise.net Indian Drone

3. Peace out: Quabel

If the tippity tap of a typewriter puts you in Zen mode, check out Quabel. It’s a distraction-free text editor with a clean interface and a few nifty options. The free version gives you access to settings like typewriter sounds (you can choose silent mode too), goal setting and white or black backgrounds. You can publish your final document in one of six file types (all the usual suspects like PDF and DOC) or print or email it. In Editor mode, you create. In Explorer mode, you can open and organize your files.

quabel regular

quabel night mode

If you like Quabel, also check out a similar site, Calmly Writer. Just click on the lotus blossom of the online version for simple features like uploading an image and downloading your file.

4. Bliss out: OmmWriter Dāna

OmmWriter Dāna is my absolute favorite service for desktop Zen but because I’m cheap, I haven’t downloaded it yet. Trips to Sedona aren’t free. What’s cool is that you name your price. The average offering is currently $7.33. I repeat, I’m cheap. Anyway, OmmWriter delivers an absolutely ethereal writing environment. The birds chirp, the sun rises and words flow like a trickling stream (well, sort of). Here, watch this:

OmmWriter Dāna from herraizsoto on Vimeo.

OmmWriter’s trinity of visually calming backgrounds, mood-setting audio tracks and keystroke sounds keep you productive and focused. Until, of course, someone or something breaks your focus. Ommm…

5. Time out: Focus Booster

Based on the pomodoro productivity technique of working in 25-minute bursts followed by rest, Focus Booster forces you to ignore desktop distractions by keeping you on a schedule. First you need to download the desktop timer. You’ll then sign in and set up a Client (or project), set your timer and go (hard!). The timer window changes to more energetic colors as you work and when it’s up, a short timer goes off to send you on your break. It’s simple. But it works.

focus booster

Bear not included.

Until next time, wishing you heaps of good juju. And think about that Sedona trip. The nature alone is enough to inspire your next novel.

Got a cool tool or trick you use to Zen-ify your writing practice? Let us know by sharing below.

Lisa Kasanicky

About Lisa

Relaxation curator, travel book author, writer, editor, dog lover, samurai.

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