Review of Flowstate: "The Most Dangerous Writing App"
Staff Writer By: Michael Haase
Writing itself is a simple task. All you have to do is put one word after the other, form sentences, form ideas, and make everything you've done come together into one great work that is sure to express your heart and soul exactly as you intended.
Well, perhaps there is a lot more to writing than simply stringing words together. There are a lot of details, heart, emotion, ideals, characters, love, and everything in between that is invested in even the simplest of fiction pieces. Sometimes the very task can seem so great that simply getting started can seem impossible. Sometimes continuing an idea that has already been started is even more difficult.
People enjoy calling these difficulties "writer's block," and most proposed solutions involve doing things other than simply writing. My words and ideas can get twisted together in my mind to the point in which I doubt my work entirely. Doubt can be a writer's worst enemy; however, if doubt is preventing the writer from completing work, then the energy being put into doubt needs to be converted into an outrageous stream of productivity.
Getting the words out is the essential part of writing, and it sometimes can be terribly difficult. Staring that blank page down and allowing doubt to wash over you prevents the all-too-essential first draft from being born. It is in composing the first draft that a project can stall out and die before it ever gets the opportunity to be finished. If only there were a way to force a writer to quit stalling and dish out that first draft without looking back...
Enter Flowstate. The app that erases everything you have written if you stop writing for five seconds. That's right. Everything you've written, no matter how long you've been writing for, gets permanently erased if you stop writing.
I maintain that Flowstate is the first draft's best friend. It might be disguised in what sounds to be an evil premise, but follow along with me for a bit here.
Flowstate is simple in both its layout and its function. Basically, its a basic, yet beautifully sleek, word processor. The program gives you five fonts to pick from and a blank page. No other frills or distractions. What makes Flowstate unique and, in my opinion, wonderful, is that there is only one other main function you must choose prior to writing a document: how long you will be writing for. The timing starts at five minutes and goes for as long as 180 minutes (for the truly crazy ones out there). So once you title you document, pick a font and a time, you are ready to go.
Flowstate gives you a blank page with the time you've chosen in the upper right corner. As soon as you start writing, the timer begins counting down. Type away as fast or a slow as you'd like, but if you stop making keystrokes, your entire document begins fading away and will disappear completely if you do not press a key within five seconds. Let five seconds run out, and all of your work is gone. There's no safety net, no autosave. It's just gone. Forever.
Why would anyone in their right mind do such a thing? Because it's brilliant. Do you need to write and you keep putting it off? Do you need to complete your first draft but you keep questioning your story? Do you tend to be easily distracted when you should be writing? Well, then Flowstate has a tremendously effective answer. As opposed to other software that simply attempts to block out distractions, Flowstate directly threatens your progress should you not keep going and get to your work. It makes you focus.
And once the timer runs out you can continue typing, knowing that all of your hard work will be saved. You can then return to it and edit it, or export your work to another format altogether.
Although being threatened while being creative might not be for everyone, I find it to be exhilarating. If I only have ten minutes to write, then I can set my timer in Flowstate and know that I will use that ten minutes to its fullest.
The app is available in the Apple Mac Store for $9.99 or in the App Store for $4.99, and both apps synchronize together over the iCloud so you can edit any of your drafts anywhere. While $5-$10 can seem like a bit of money for a simple app, you are making an investment in your creativity that can certainly payoff quickly and change what you thought you knew about your writing process.
Here is a helpful video that shows how the app basically works: