Monday, July 6, 2009

TMTOMH Disorder

Once again, I've come down with a case of TMTOMH (Too Much Time On My Hands) Disorder. It happens every summer and I still don't know how to cure it. Sometimes the symptoms are mild and I'm able to get things crossed off my massive to-do list. At other times, however, the symptoms are debilitating and all I can manage to do is watch old movies on TV, surf the web and putter ineffectively around the house. One of the worst side effects of this disorder is a massive case of writer's block. It took everything I have to get this short post written. What's a writer with TMTOMH (with secondary writer's block) to do?

Well, I took advantage of my need to web-surf and I checked the ultimate source - no, not - Verla Kay's Blueboard! In no time at all, I found a thread addressing the writer's block issue and it led me to an excellent site that I think will help me and my fellow sufferers. The site is called and on the site is an application called Write or Die.

Here's how Dr. Wicked describes the application:

Write or Die is a web application that encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box. As long as you keep typing, you're fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences.

The idea is to instill in the would-be writer with a fear of not writing. We do this by employing principles taught in Introduction to Psychology. Anyone remember Operant Conditioning and Negative Reinforcement?Negative Reinforcement "strengthens a behavior because a negative condition is stopped or avoided as a consequence of the behavior."

  • Gentle Mode: A certain amount of time after you stop writing, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.
  • Normal Mode: If you persistently avoid writing, you will be played a most unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.
  • Kamikaze Mode: Keep Writing or Your Work Will Unwrite Itself

These consequences will persist until your preset conditions have been met (that is, your time is up or you've written your wordcount goal or both).

Sound intriguing? Give Write or Die a try and let me know what you think. Here's the link: