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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Clemmer

Write or Die: Resource Review

Disclaimer: I’m not an affiliate for Write or Die and will receive no compensation if you fall in love with it. I’m only a fellow writer who wants you to get over your hump and get your book out there.

Even if you’re a fast typist, getting words on the page can be the toughest and most time-consuming part of an author career. You’ll stare at the screen, write a few paragraphs, go back and wonder if you said that part the right way, return to where you were, wonder how you’re going to work the main conflict into this scene, realize your theming and atmosphere have drifted into the void, and then let that process repeat itself over for the rest of the writing session.

Editing while writing can kill your process and rob you blind. You think it’s a good investment while you do it, but later you decide that this one scene you spent so much time on actually doesn’t work in the book and needs to be cut out. In the end, early drafts should focus more on quantity than quality if you want to work efficiently.

So how do you do it? How can you hack your productivity, spew words out all over the page, and focus on moving forward instead of hopping back?

How do you simply write?

Some of us can do it by will, but some of us need something a little more than that.

That’s where Write or Die comes in.

Write or Die: A Review

If someone pointed a gun to your head, you’d find a way to write. Write or Die works, more or less, on the same principle. You choose a word count and an amount of time to write it. For me, that’s usually 500 words in 15 minutes. Then you start typing.

As long as you keep up with your typing quota, everything’s good. Depending on your setting, you might be treated with ambient pictures of kittens or waterfalls as the program rewards you for your hard work. But sooner or later, you’ll stray. We all do it. You’ll slow down, get distracted, stop to sip your tea, etc.

That’s when the fun starts.

Write or Die can manifest itself as a nuisance or an outright monster. As soon as you fall behind, the screen starts turning an ugly red. It deepens, and then an electric guitar starts wailing at you.

But wait--there’s more.

Depending again on your setting, Write or Die can also start deleting your writing when you stop typing, not allowing you to save it during the process. That's right: it takes your words, mashes them up, and throws them out the window so you have to go to all the trouble to remember them and re-write them because you didn't have enough words to begin with.

That particular agony will only happen once, because if you use Write or Die in this way, you’ll never allow yourself to stop writing long enough for that to happen again.

This is one of the most effective tools I’ve encountered for addressing writer’s block and forcing productivity, and I’ve personally used it (or threatened myself with using it) since the early 2010s. The program has changed and expanded since then, so here’s a rough overview of what you can expect.


I recommend Write or Die 2 at because it has more style and ambiance than the others and because it’s easy to use and dive into. You can purchase the software yourself or use the free version online, which is a great way to give yourself an extra nudge when you really need it.


Write or Die is absolutely customizable. You can set it up before you begin with how you want the program to punish or reward you for your writing. The default will be something like the experience I described earlier and is good if you don’t want to waste time setting up a custom experience.


Some writers use Write or Die every day to maximize typing time and productivity. Others only use it when they need an extra kick in the pants. That’s up to you. Even trying Write or Die on occasion can significantly help your speed increase and adjust your brain to the idea of typing without worrying about how brilliant your writing is or whether it makes sense.


I recommend Write or Die under two tragically common circumstances: first if you struggle to write in the first place. Usually, writer’s block is due to either laziness and procrastination or analysis paralysis, and Write or Die can crush either style over the course of a few minutes.

The second circumstance is if you have the habit of editing while you write and want to switch gears to writing entirely. You won’t have time to edit while frantically trying to keep up with the pace you set at the beginning.

How do you like to get writing? Have you tried out Write or Die to solve any of your productivity problems? Please answer in the comments below or join my Facebook group to keep the conversation going!


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