Distraction-Free, Full-Screen Text Editors: Can They Help?

Like most writers I know, I use Microsoft Word to do the bulk of my writing. I’ve looked around for other software, but none can compare to the editing power of Word. The only things that it’s missing (okay, one of the things that it’s missing) is a Distraction-Free, Full-Screen Text Editor (DFFSTE).

DFFSTEs offer a way to clear the clutter off the screen so you can focus solely on the words you’re putting to the page. Of course you still have to copy and paste it into Word to get a proper edit, but that’s beside the point. If the atmosphere these DFFSTEs create helps you create genius, that’s a small price to pay.

Let me start by covering things that can be found on all DFFSTEs I’ve listed here. They all have they ability to set word goals, timers, and other statistics pertaining to your current work. They are also, by and large, time-consuming (and at times difficult) to get set up in a manner I felt aesthetically pleasing. That said, I’ll get on with it.

**Note: All pictures can be clicked for larger images.

Q10

This DFFSTE is minimalistic. The set up required to get the screen how I liked it was less than user-friendly. Unless you’re comfortable setting your own margins in pixels and are willing to spend the extra time with trial and error, this might not be the best for you. Once the screen is to your liking, however, there’s very little to distract you. Not even those pesky bold, italicize, or underline options. It does offer typewriter clicking while you type which, to me, is more distracting than novel.

WriteMonkey

As far as options go, this DFFSTE is a step up from Q10. Right-clicking the mouse will bring up a long list of options, and setting up the screen layout is a bit more user-friendly. It even offers several different keystroke sounds if your own keyboard doesn’t make enough sound for your taste.

FocusWriter

What sets this DFFSTE apart from the rest is the ability to add a background image. Find a soothing image, slap it in the background, and use it to help set the tone of your writing. It also has a tool bar at the top and status bar at the bottom that appears when you hover the cursor over them. The tool bar keeps you from having to remember dozens of keyboard shortcuts, making this to be the most user-friendly of the group I tested.

Honorable Mention

Scrivener’s Full-Screen Mode (for Windows)

I won’t get into all the things that Scrivener is here. I’m just going to cover the full-screen mode. This is the only DFFSTE that I didn’t feel the need to adjust the original settings. However, if you did want to make some changes, it’s the easiest of the bunch to do so. Alas, there are no extra keystroke noises to be had. An added bonus is that once you’re done using the DFFSTE, it is already incorporated into larger work (if you’re writing a novel that is). The only reason it is only an Honorable Mention is because eventually the free beta version for Windows will go away and you will have to pay for it.

This a mere scratch in the surface of the many Distraction-Free, Full Screen Text Editors out there. Feel free to Google and see. Try one out and see if it can help shake some creative thoughts loose. If you find one that’s not mentioned here, please leave a comment below to tell us about it.

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