I Tried the World’s Most Dangerous Writing Tool

I survived and I live to tell: it’s amazing

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

When it comes to writing there is one thing that is really difficult to overcome, the writer’s block. I don’t know any fellow writer who hasn’t been there, complaining about being stuck and being miserable about the blank page yelling at them.

There are all sorts of tools and techniques to fight writer’s block and it’s definitely something that you need to sort out if you want to write consistently.

When I am already in the flow, I usually can keep going, but sometimes my imposter syndrome and my writer's block stop me from getting started.

I found squibler.io by accident and it was intriguing enough for me to give it a try.

Don’t stop writing, or all progress will be lost.

This is what the Most Dangerous Writing App says when you arrive on their writing prompt section. Menacing, right?

You need to keep writing or you risk losing all your work. If you stop typing, the text starts to fade away and will be gone forever just after 5 seconds. At that point, everything written will be lost and there is no way of getting it back.

You need to set the limit by which you can download or copy your work. It can be either a time limit (3–60 minutes) or the number of words completed (75–1667 words).

The even scarier hardcore version is when you can only see the letter that you just typed, the rest can’t be seen. It allows you to focus on the keyboard and not on the screen, without spotting typos to correct or without wanting to go back and edit on the go.

It felt like a nice challenge and I set myself for a dangerous writing session of five minutes.

Phew.

[Actually, I am writing the draft of this article using the platform. I feel like the hackers in the movies who look like they know exactly what they are doing and they are just spilling words and code onto the screen without even looking up.]

Advantages

I found it really very useful from several different aspects, so here’s a list of learnings from the writing sessions.

You don’t have time to question yourself

5 seconds is a very short time and it is extremely scary to see your precious words starting to fade into oblivion, knowing that there is no undo, no CTRL-Z to get it back if it’s gone.

You can’t really stop and contemplate whether what you wrote was good or not. You can’t stop and wonder whether you are a writer or not. You just have to type. It makes the process very simple.

You don’t have time for distractions

One of the best advice is to switch off all social media and eliminate distractions when you start writing. It’s solid gold, but it’s really difficult to do. With the 5 second rule, it is impossible to concentrate on anything else. I put my phone away because it was very distracting to see it light up. I had an incoming message, but I couldn’t stop writing to check it, otherwise, I would have lost the progress. And when I got to 300 words in 5 minutes, that text message just wasn’t worth risking the loss of it all.

You don’t have time to edit as you go

My biggest writing fault is that I am continuously editing my writing as I write. I stop to correct my grammar mistakes, I stop to look for a better word, I delete and I go back. It is very good advice to write and edit separately but I never managed to do that. Even if I know that it requires two different parts of the brain I was still trying to do it at the same time.

When you don’t have the luxury, as going back, deleting and correcting is taking time away from your 5 seconds, editing as you write becomes irrelevant and useless. I am not going to risk my written paragraphs for a stupid missing comma splice or apostrophe.

You can’t not get in a writing flow

The flow is a motivational model where you have to have the skill equally high as the level of the challenge. It is extremely useful and it’s very rewarding on its own. When you are procrastinating, when you are overthinking, when you allow yourself to be distracted, you cannot get into any kind of flow state. The flow needs concentration and hyperfocus, and with this time limit, you can’t do anything but to be there and write. Unless you are fine with losing your precious thoughts.

You have to declutter your thoughts

I think in a way that I already have a lot of things on my mind before I start writing. Almost too many. I have a lot of arguments, I have a lot of questions and the speed of my writing is usually affected by me wanting to write too many things. With this, I cannot afford to think about too many things. It’s just the next sentence and the next sentence. There is no other way. I cannot start to contemplate whether what I think is good or not. It doesn’t matter. If it’s good, it will survive the editing, if it’s shit, I will delete it — no big deal.

You have to realise that your thoughts are precious

When I am faced with the possibility of losing everything I have written without the opportunity of ever getting it back it makes me value my work a lot more. It made me realise that what I am doing is precious and it has a value that I don’t want to lose. I didn’t think about that before the threat of losing it all. But now I am doing everything in my power to keep them. I can’t afford to lose them, there are gems and gold in it. I suddenly got protective of it, and I am defending it with all my power: “It’s mine you can’t take it away from me.”

Disadvantages

It is obviously not the Holy Grail. Just like with every tool and every hack, this tool is not good for everything.

If you are writing an academic paper or a science-backed article, you won’t be able to stop and insert the right quotes or phrase the right sentences.

If you already have an outline in your head for what you want to write, then it’s better to use a simple word processor than looking at the clock and fearing that your words will be lost for good if you can’t keep up with the pace.

If you can’t let go of editing on the go, then it’s again not for you.

Just as with everything, you need to find the place where it fits — and then use it whenever you can for what it is good for.

Summary

It is a great tool to try:

  • Because it’s fun.
  • Because it’s a challenge, and who doesn’t like a great challenge?
  • Because it can help with procrastination.
  • Because it can make you remove the distractions.
  • Because it can make your writer’s block go away, as you don’t have time to focus on anything else but writing one word after the other.
  • Because it makes you rely on your thoughts and it makes you re-evaluate them and give yourself more credit for your work than you would.
  • Because it forces you to write a lot in 5 minutes only and motivation comes after accomplishment.

Trying this tool out, in the course of 20 minutes, which is four 5-minute sessions I wrote 1200 words, which is more than I would usually write in an hour. It forced me to speed type, it made me let go of my inhibitions and yes, I needed another 20 minutes to edit it to become a proper article but I had a very good basis to work my editing magic on it.

I am not saying that it’s good for everything, but it is definitely offering a very good solution to fight your battles against writer’s block and it forces you to go against the blank page. As you simply cannot afford the blank page.

Writing is like love. As the creators of the tool say…

It is better to have written and lost, than never to have written at all.

So if you want to give it a try, just click on this link Most Dangerous Writing App and then go to Start Writing w/o Prompt for an empty screen, or go for a prompt clicking on the Generate Prompt button. The default setting is a 5-minute session.

screenshot by author

Have fun and tell me about it!

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Writer. Dreamer. Hopeless romantic. Newsletter: zita.substack.com Email me: zitafontaine (at) gmail

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