Whether you are at home, school or working in the daily grind at your job, chances are you have probably written a decent amount of papers or notes. Of course, writing them without any visual distractions whatsoever can be a bit challenging, such as RSS feed notifications popping up at random, folks instant messaging you, and just the constant temptation of the visible web browser icon on your taskbar. For anyone wishing to write and have a clean slate to work with, there is an app for that.

Focus on the task at hand

FocusWriter by Graeme Grott is a GPLv3 open-sourced document writer application that gives you the ability to take over your entire screen with a gray text area. Once FocusWriter is loaded, there is no sign of anything from the operating system or other applications. Just a gray background and a blinking cursor, ready to accept your keyboard input at will.

For some, FocusWriter even serves as a reminder of a simpler time in computing when the WordPerfect 5.1 release for DOS used the famous full-screen blue background and blinking cursor. The interface is a simple as it comes, though there are a few interesting extras that FocusWriter does contain that are worth mentioning.

If you mouse over to the bottom of the screen, you see a document tab area. Essentially, if you want to have many documents open at once, FocusWriter generates a tab for each one, not unlike that of a modern web-browser. This mitigates the lack of a multiple document window interface that comes standard in most office suites today, which would allow for multiple windows.

Mousing up to the top of the screen gives you your typical File menu, where you can create, save and load documents, and alter other settings. Compared to a more feature rich word processor, FocusWriter is more limited. However, given that the goal of the software is to be as minimalistic as possible, this makes perfect sense.

Finally, an interesting feature that I believe should be considered is the daily goals area. By going into the Preferences menu under Settings, you can set an amount of time or words per day that goes into whatever document you are writing. For instance, if you are a student typing a term paper and want to space out your writing activities with clearly defined goals, you could set the daily goal to 500 words or half an hour.

Depending on the option you choose, once you reach that particular value, you are notified, thus giving you a clear breaking point to move ahead with other activities, realizing the satisfaction you just gained from finishing the defined goal. This is probably one of the most interesting features provided by FocusWriter, especially for those who wish to pace themselves with their writing.

Bottom line

Honestly, I can’t help but recommend this software program for Windows. There is something to be said for enhancing your productivity by blanking out the surrounding distractions on your computer desktop. As a matter of fact, I can truly say that my productivity has gone up with FocusWriter, and I know because I wrote this review on this program. Since FocusWriter is open-source, naturally the software is available for free and is also cross-platform. Go ahead and give it a whirl today. You won’t regret it and your writer’s block might finally decide to go away.

Features: (From gottcode.org)

  • TXT, basic RTF, and basic ODT file support
  • Timers and alarms
  • Daily goals
  • Fully customizable themes
  • Typewriter sound effects (optional)
  • Auto-save (optional)
  • Live statistics (optional)
  • Spell-checking (optional)
  • Multi-document support
  • Sessions
  • Portable mode (optional)

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