"…and not for five minutes will I be distracted from the wonder…"

Dark (Side of the) Room

Bit by Bit — d-ashes on January 11, 2008 at 4:28 pm

As Natalia D noted, I’ve actually been able to nail some things to A&W’s wall with a bit more frequency at the dawn of the new year. We’ll still have to see if I can keep up such a pace, but I am making an effort. Since moving to Baton Rouge two and a half years ago I’ve spent way more time in front of a computer for a living, which means when I get home I’ve been much less inclined to put serious time in front of the screen again. But I’m trying to come to terms with the bit-based lifestyle this time around, and while I don’t look to spend much more of my extra-curricular time in front of the computer, I am putting forth the effort to make the time that I do spent there count for more.

That said, let me give a plug to a handy little program that has made writing on the computer much more efficient and enjoyable since I found it last week. It’s called DarkRoom, and is a free-ware, Windows-based port of a Macintosh program called WriteRoom (sorry Macintosh users, but you gotta pay to play with WriteRoom unfortunately). DarkRoom is a full-screen, bare-bones word-processor, which might not sound like much on the surface, but if you download it and fire the thing up, I think you’ll find yourself, like me, pleasantly surprised.

The whole point of DarkRoom is to put blinders on your computer screen, effectively turning it into a rather expensive typewriter, so that all you can do is write with it. There is no visual user interface (save for a right-click context menu), all commands are keyboard driven and you have to make a genuine effort to leave the program to get out to all your other programs that you routinely waste time with when you need to be working on the words. I’ve been using it for just about a week exactly, and I’ve seen a marked improvement in how I go about my computer-based writing. Working in an environment free of formatting buttons and with the screen locked down so that email notifications nor instant messages can break my concentration have had me getting a lot more out of the time I am willing to spend in front of the computer.

Obviously, in the interest of keeping things simple and keeping the focus on getting words onto the screen, there are plenty of things that DarkRoom will not do. You’ll eventually need to take what you’ve written in it (you save your work as plain text files) and plug it into a more full featured editor for text or html formatting. But for simply getting words out of your head onto the screen, DarkRoom can’t be beat.

Screen Shot - DarkRoom
Screenshot – (click to enlarge)

You can download it here. Once you’ve unzipped it, just open it up and you’re good to go. There are numerous shortcut keys, but the only ones I know are Control-S to save and Control-Q to quit. Right click in the screen to access preferences that change the background and text colors or the font that you’re using. Happy Typing!


  1. Well, it seems like it’s working for you- and don’t forget that even though you are on a computer all day- you DO enjoy writing and you ARE good at it.

    Comment by natalie — January 12, 2008 @ 10:26 am
  2. I downloaded it and tried it on your recommendation. Once I started going I found that I had written quite a lot (see “A Nice January Weekend”). There really may be something to the idea that having a blank screen w/ no other distractions can be conducive to writing better. Thanks for the idea!

    Comment by Bobby — January 15, 2008 @ 9:51 am

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