Not everyone has the willpower to sit down and write for an hour everyday. With pop-up notifications, the siren call of the internet, and everyday life getting in the way, sometimes even the formatting bar in your word processor can be enough to drive you away from wordsmithery.

This overwhelming feeling of distraction is probably why there are multiple competing software applications aimed at creating a pared-down zen environment for putting words on paper.

keep your mind focused with focused writing applicationsWriteRoom (Mac, iPad) captures the look of early computer word processors – the focus isn’t on features, but you and your text. Jeffery MacIntrye, writing in Slate, describes the minimalist interface as, “a truly flattering proposition: It’s you, not the software, that matters.”

FocusWriter (PC, Mac, Linux) features more customization, including changeable themes and the option to set word count goals for yourself. It’s a free open-source program, as well.

OmmWriter (PC, Mac, iPad) was created to soothe the ‘monkey mind’ of zen philosophy. While the above applications were built to be as pared-down as possible, OmmWriter instead turns to an aesthetic minimalism. It features backgrounds with subtle gradation and calm audio that wouldn’t be out of place in a yoga studio.

If you don’t have any trouble keeping yourself on track, but do find yourself whipped out of concentration by sudden noises, there are options to keep you ears from picking up jarring aural distraction.

Simply Noise (Online) provides for free what a sound machine would do – white noise and nothing else. With options for tone frequency and the ‘color’ of noise, you can find the solution to the noises that distract you most.

Ambiance (PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, Linux) goes beyond being a sound machine. It’s a jukebox of background noise. Fancy writing in a cafe? Ambiance has that ambiance. Writing a scene in a submarine or a jungle? Ambiance can put you right there with sound. Don’t want to write alone? There’s even an option to play keyboard sounds. It’s free, and most of the sound library is free, but premium recordings are available.

There’s no excuse for distraction – try some zenware and see if it helps you stay on track.

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