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Focus on Art, Not on Features: Simple Online Tools for Writers

Focus on Art, Not on Features: Simple Online Tools for Writers
    Photo credit: Wouter Verhelst (CC BY-SA 2.0)

    As computer applications mature and its base of users grow, companies tend to continually tweak their functions and add features so that the programs can meet everyone’s needs. Sometimes, the changes are universally accepted, but other times it marginalizes users looking for a specialized and lightweight program.

    Some writers believe that modern word processors have so many features and options that it interrupts their focus and actually hinders their creative efforts. Because of this hindrance, some writers have forsaken the computer and instead use typewriters or pen and paper.

    That said, using those tools may also hinder the ability to create prolifically, but that’s the tradeoff. So what simple tools are available for writers who want to focus on their art and not be distracted by features?

    Basic Writing

    Even if you were to customize a word processor like Microsoft Word, hiding all of the menus and maximizing the writing space, you are still paying hundreds of dollars for features that you will never use. Instead, there are many free web and desktop applications that offer features you need — and nothing else. Below are some of my favourite free applications in this category.

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    Focus Writer

    Focus Writer is ingenious in its simplicity and developed around the idea that writers want to create writing environments that meets their specific needs. Except for a small toolbar on the top, the rest of the screen is open for writing space.

    You can adjust the settings of your font size, screen color, and text color. It is not about creating a visually appealing document, but instead, it is about using screen colors that are conducive to writing.

    The features that really stand out include:

    • Goals and progress bar
    • Writing timers
    • Portable edition available

    Internet Writer: The Internet Typewriter

    The one thing I really enjoy about Internet Writer: The Internet Typewriter is the way it emulates a chromatic display. The retro green on black display takes you back to the early 80s. Once you set your web browser to full screen, there is nothing to distract you from your work.

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    Key features:

    • No signup required
    • Automatic backup during your session
    • Word count
    • PDF export

    750words.com

    I have recommended this site to many people who are struggling with writer’s block or constant procrastination.

    750words.com revolves around the concept that writers should write at least three paper pages or the equivalent of 750 words per day. The writing environment is extremely sparse and the program’s formatting options are hiding on a hard to find options page.

    Key features:

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    • Email reminders to complete your 750 words for the day
    • Community support and achievement badges that are used to inspire and reward you for maintaining a writing streak
    • Many export options

    Basic Mind Mapping

    Mind mapping applications can suffer from the same feature overload that you see in word processors. The purpose of mind mapping is to guide your thought process in a logical manner and give you a clear path or overview of your work.

    While applications like Mindjet’s MindManager are incredible tools, the advanced features of these programs tend to entice users to muck around with a process that should be simple and straightforward. Advanced formatting and presentation features are great for sophisticated users, but these extended options tend to frustrate new mind map users.

    If you’re looking for a simple mind mapping app, here’s one that’s worth a look:

    Blumind

    Blumind is an open source program that is lightweight and distinct because of its simple interface. Because there are no pull down menus to browse or large command buttons to distract your attention, your eyes automatically focus on the map workspace. There are also two optional and unassuming window panels on the right side of the screen that offer some formatting options, a navigation pane, and a bullet list representation of your mind map.

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    If you are new to mind mapping or a seasoned user, Blumind offers everything you need to develop your map in a clean no-frills format.

    Key features:

    • Each node can have its own progress bar to judge the progress of an activity
    • Multiple Layout Types
    • Timer
    • You can export to a graphical format, text documents (bullet form), or the *.mm function that allows you to import your map into an open source program like Freemind.
    • Portable edition is under 1 MB is size

    Conclusion

    These applications are just a few of the free tools available online to help you focus your attention and maximize your writing time. And that’s what we’re all looking for  — or should be looking for — so that we can create really great work.

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    Published on June 19, 2019

    Your Beliefs About Success May Be Holding You Back

    Your Beliefs About Success May Be Holding You Back
    Pause for a moment and think about how you would describe success.

    If your description is dominated by money or status, then your image of success is faulty.

    For example, there are countless people who have these assets but don’t feel successful. Some of these people have enormous amounts of disposable income, but work so many hours during the day that they have no life beyond their work.

    Would you regard these people as successful?

    At first glance, I likely wouldn’t.

    And, then there are the endless celebrities who go from fame to failure (think bankruptcy, addictions and worse).

    Are they successful?

    Probably not.

    In truth, success is about happiness and fulfillment in life.

    But, there is more than one definition of success. Just look at the above example of the person who worked too hard to spend their money. If they’re happy with their life, then we shouldn’t criticize their version of success.

    So how about you? Do you have a clear definition of what success looks like for you?

    If you don’t, you’ll be constantly chasing someone else’s idea of success, and could find yourself totally unfulfilled and miserable.

    The good news is that over the next few minutes, I’m going to give you the tools you need to build a crystal clear picture of YOUR SUCCESS.

    Positive Thinking

    With the right attitude, anything can seem possible.

    For instance, if you’re fed up with your job, but do nothing to change it, then you’ll likely be stuck there for years to come. But, if you see the job as a stepping stone to something bigger and better, then not only will you enjoy your work more, but you’ll have something positive to aim towards (e.g., a promotion or new job).

    The example above demonstrates a little-known factor of success… suffering!

    Yes, suffering may be a negative thing that most people go out of their way to avoid; but successful people use suffering as a springboard to big achievements. Mindset really does separate the losers from the winners.

    Another thing you can do, is to gradually build up your positivity and confidence by tracking your progress towards your goals. And, each time you accomplish something – however small – be sure to celebrate it!

    This is a great way to propel you towards success.

    The Purpose of a Purpose

    What is your purpose in life?

    These are questions I suggest you spend some time thinking about. To help you find the answers, consider the following:

    If you just seek a career, all you will find is a career.

    But, if you seek a purpose, you’ll find something much more than a career – you’ll find your calling. And when you’ve found this, and you begin following it, you’ll be firmly in the middle of the happiness, satisfaction and success zone.

    This is backed by science, with research showing that people who have a purpose and meaning in life have an increase in:[1]
    • Overall well-being
    • Mental and physical health
    • Resiliency
    • Self-esteem

    But, don’t mistake seeking happiness and success as your purpose. These things are a natural result of following your purpose – but shouldn’t be your focal point.

    Austrian Neurologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said it well:

    “It is the very pursuit of happiness, that thwarts happiness.”

    What about YOUR purpose?

    If you’re struggling to identify it, look for the things in your life that you’re good at, enthuse you, and provide a benefit to the world.

    Becoming a Better You

    Are your beliefs holding you back?

    If yes, here are three things you can do RIGHT NOW to break out of your mind trap:

    1. Boost Your Confidence: you can do this by overcoming challenges that come your way. For example, if you have a fear of public speaking, face this challenge head-on by agreeing to do regular presentations for your company, or by joining a public speaking organization like Toastmasters International. Speak in public often enough, and your fear of it will plunge like a river going over a waterfall.
    2. Develop Healthy Habits: I’m talking about positive habits that will serve you day in, day out. Habits such as lifelong learning, eating well, and waking up early. When these things are automatic for you, you’ll reap incredible benefits from them. Take eating well, for example. You’ll feel better. You’ll look better. And you’ll have way more energy to make things happen in your life.
    3. Invoke the Magic of Goal Setting: Without goals, you’ll drift through life like a plastic bottle in the sea. But with goals, you’ll be like a 100m sprinter running towards the finishing line. Goals really are powerful tools. They’ll direct your focus and energy, and will allow you to track your progress in life. I recommend the SMART goal-setting method (find out about this here).

    And, always remember… don’t compare yourself to others; only compare yourself to who you were yesterday.

    Each step you take forward is making you a better version of you.

    Success Is Self-Love

    I encourage you to take the tips I’ve shared in this article and put them into action in your life. Ideally, starting right now!

    Firstly, transform your mindset by facing up to challenges and overcoming them. Then spend time to discover your purpose. And, once you’ve found it – start following it.

    Becoming a better version of you will take some time, but will be worth the wait. Not only will you reach into untapped potential in your life, but you’ll also develop respect and love for yourself along the way.

    So don’t let your beliefs hold you back anymore. BREAK FREE from them and start enjoying a happy, healthy and successful life.

    Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

    Reference

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