The Beauty of the Blank Page: Tips for Defeating Digital Diversions

I have a lot of respect for the writers of the past. It’s not so much their style that impresses me, because, let’s face it, people in the old days produced plenty of crap too. But when I think about the fact that for thousands of years writers had to actually physically write down their words onto paper it makes me a little awestruck.

Can you imagine the editing process? Or worse yet, the rewrites? Having to physically re-copy the entirety of a manuscript by hand? Can you imagine the day when “cut and paste” involved actual scissors and actual glue?

So yeah, computers are awesome. But like most awesome modern things they come with a price.

Because in a way, computers are too awesome. Not only do they come with wonderful word processing tools to help you make your writing the best it can be, but they also can connect to a million different diversions and distractions through the internet.

Maybe you’re stronger than me. Maybe when you sit down to write your words for the morning, it never occurs to you that Linkara should have posted a new comic review today, and it’s only like, thirty minutes long, so you’ve got time to bop over there and see what’s going on with that. Okay, so that one probably hasn’t happened to you, but you get the idea.

Distractions are the curse of the internet.

So what do you do? Well of course there’s always good old self-control. You can tell yourself to wait for that reward until you’ve finished writing. You can even switch off your computer’s internet connections for a while. But maybe you need a little extra layer of protection from all those temptations. Wouldn’t it be great if you could shut out all the rest of that stuff and focus on the page?

If that’s your dilemma then it’s time for you to meet my good friend Dark Room.  Dark Room is a fantastic little program that completely fills your screen with nothing but the empty page, waiting for you to fill it with your words. Of course it’s still possible to minimize it and get to other stuff on your computer if you need to, but I’ve found that often, with the visual distractions removed I’ve been able to focus more on the words I’m writing.

Dark Room is a fairly minimalist program. It has no spell check function. In a way it’s like installing a typewriter on your computer. What you type is what you see and nothing else.

The color scheme is adjustable so if neon green letters on a black screen aren’t your thing you can change it to something a little different. You can even change the font to Courier New to give it a real typewriter look.

Overall this has been a fantastic tool for me. I don’t use it all the time, but when I hear the siren song of digital distractions I open it up and indulge myself in the decadence of a truly blank page.

If any of you struggle with the endless distractions of the internet I highly recommend you try this little program. It’s free and simple to use. And it may just help you accomplish something wonderful.

The Dark Room program can be downloaded here.

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12 responses to “The Beauty of the Blank Page: Tips for Defeating Digital Diversions

  1. i can’t imagine sending out hundreds of pages to an editor, only to re-write them again and again. phew. makes me tired just thinking about it.
    Is Dark Room always black? Can you make a white screen? It’d be too hard for me to read if it was always black like that.

  2. Anybody remember typewriters and whiteout? Even this last bit of technology, which was a huge advance on anything that came before, still requires endless rewrites, plus literal cutting and pasting.

    I usually treat the distraction of the web like necessary breaks from the work, but it’s too easy to forget it’s only a break. I come back to myself and my writing hours later and wonder where the day went.

    When I do need that blank screen, Scrivener lets me forget, temporarily, that the web is right there, in back of the page.

  3. Writing or typing out by hand? Oh the humanity!

    Really, how the heck did they do that? lol

  4. Just imagine handwriting with a quill pen. You had to keep the pen properly sharpened, and you had to dip in the the ink regularly. Imagine all the works of Charles Dickens being written that way — or Balzac.

  5. Oh man, even word processors. We had one of those before a computer. And a typewriter before that. I totally turned in my paper with that old courier font. And before we got a computer, our word processor went ballistic and started typing out mass gibberish in the middle of your paper, and we’d be freaking out! Scary times! But I like the idea of your site for avoiding online distractions, which has been my current downfall. I just want to read all the cool blogs you are guys are posting. *whine, whine* Thanks for sharing!

  6. Me? Since yesterday, whenever I get distracted, I get up and look at our plants. I figured that since looking at plants helped curb my appetite for sweets, it might also help me with my writing. So far, it’s working (long term not tested). I feel refreshed afterwards and then I get back to work. I accomplished more things doing this than if I just checked the internet when I’m bored.

    • Plants huh? I’ve got some plants in my living room, but they don’t usually help me focus. I’ve heard people say that fish have a calming effect before. I wonder if it’s related.

  7. Pingback: The Nostalgia of Word Processors | Escaping the Inkwell

  8. Wow…. I seriously love this program. I typed up a whole post on it tonight, and it is a dream program. Something I think I might use quite often in the future because it is so clean and, well, blank. The no distractions for me is excellent as I am forever getting very very very distracted.

    Thank you so much for sharing it. I will have it in my arsenal, or in this case, a big spot on my laptop desktop, for use at all times.

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