Distraction-free word processing appeals to writers looking for lightweight tools that stay out of the way.
The thinking is smart enough: heavy-duty word processors like Microsoft Word take your focus off words. Word’s vast array of tools, together with its fancy layout features, distracts writers.
A wave of distraction-free writing tools like Q10 offered a fresh approach.
And they did. But they weren’t perfect.
My favourite distraction-free writing tool, Q10, is unstable. Crashes may not worry casual writers, but I write for a living. I can’t afford to use an unreliable word processor.
So I returned to Microsoft Word.
Word is a huge program. It packs far more features than I’ll ever use. I rarely go beyond typing in text, emboldening, italicising and occasionally using control-K to insert a hyperlink. 95 percent of Word’s features remain untouched on my machine.
But Word’s stability is important. It makes automatic backups. And, as the industry standard, it allows me to file copy to editors in a format they like.
Earlier this year I upgraded to Word 2010 and turned it into a distraction-free writing tool:
- First, I hid the ribbon by clicking the tiny up-arrow next to the question mark in the top right corner of the display. This makes Word 2010 much less distracting.
- Next, I hit the Alt-V key immediately followed by U. This removed everything on the screen except my words.
- The escape key brings back the menu and status bars.
This gives me the best combination of all: distraction free writing, stability and compatibility with co-workers.