When people look at it for the first time, OmmWriter looks like it has more going on when compared to other writing apps that strip down visual distractions like WriteRoom, Writer, Elements, or Simplenote. And based on that first glance impression, people say that they could never do serious work with OmmWriter. To give some of those people a different perspective to think about, let me dive into why for me, those added features help improve my focus with OmmWriter.
I think it's fair to say that the penultimate minimal writing app for Mac is WriteRoom. It was one of the first on the scene, it was the first app people felt comfortable doing writing with on their iPhones, and when you see a screenshot of the application at work, you’ll either see it and not get it, or you’ll see a beautiful application.
But WriteRoom has more features than OmmWriter.
People don't say that often. The first time you boot it up WriteRoom, you’ll probably work through 3 different preference windows full of configuration options. There are different options for saving documents, editing plain text files or rich text documents, applying different colour schemes, and choosing page format and editing options.
The thing people love about WriteRoom so much is that it's the simplest application to use, *after* you get past all those options.
Once you have the environment set up in the way you want, then for the rest of your life you don't have to look at another single menu. Ever.
But in fact it's the same thing with both applications. It depends on getting both applications set up the way you want.
Compared to WriteRoom, OmmWriter has fewer options, but the difference is that you'll notice them every time you open the application, and every time you type a key.
From what I've read from people who don’t like OmmWriter, what they found unappealing was the idea of working in an environment containing background images, background music, and typing effects. For some people who don’t like those features, they’ll just never like OmmWriter. And that’s fine. But for the few that can be converted, I want to walk through how for me these features actively help me focus.
The background image is something I'll pick to match my mood. All of the images that come with OmmWriter are beautiful and sometimes it’s just fun to work with beautiful tools.
Since each time I open up OmmWriter my mood is different though, I usually change the background every time I open up the app. That adds some overhead. But I see this as preparation. Just like how I'll clean my desk, pour a coffee, and get ready for writing, with OmmWriter I have a very easy and quick way to do the same to get ready for a writing session.
I like the background music in OmmWriter because most of them are natural, and because the fact that they are looped makes listening to them for extended periods is possible. Once I find a track I like, just like when I choose a background image I like, I can just listen to it for 30 minutes or an hour without really paying attention to it. I know it's a loop, but because I'm in the zone and focused, I notice it less and it helps me stay in flow.
If I compare that to when I use most other writing applications, I would listen to music from iTunes when I use those other apps. That works out well most of the time, but every now and then a bad track would come up, or a song that didn't fit my mood at the time. Either of those situations quickly break my concentration.
Loops give me something to listen to that’s predictable and that doesn’t change.
The first time I tried out the keystroke sounds in OmmWriter I almost lost my mind.
I’m a big fan.
Since I listen to music whenever I write, I never hear the sound of my typing. Until I used OmmWriter for the first time I never thought about that. The keyboard sounds themselves don’t really keep me focused, but they do add a rhythm to my writing where eventually I start to disassociate the sounds from my typing. Eventually they become a part of the background music.
Some people may find those noises distracting, but I find it connects me to my writing. It gives my characters more weight and a physical quality as I type them.
I enjoy using both WriteRoom and OmmWriter equally. On a day to day basis I use WriteRoom more, because the opportunities I have to fall deeply into writing happen less, and that’s what I save OmmWriter for.