Going Full Screen: You, Your Thoughts, And Your Words

Full screen editors, though simple and unexciting at face, are the perfect tool for creative writers.

Last week I wrote about different full screen text editors to choose from and (sort of) promised that I’ll expand on why writing in full screen is at least worth trying.

Well, there is no better time for it than now.

So, what are the advantages of writing in a full screen editor with no formatting options at all, when we have all kinds of word processors with the latest bells and whistles at our command?

The question would be only fair if you were writing a formal application for a new job. But here, we are talking about creative writing, and this beast is not easy to tame.

Most writing is creative writing as it requires you to choose your words and arrange your sentences creatively (not in poetic sense, mind you). And we all know, it is impossible to be creative without being fully focussed on our thoughts.

What’s great about a full screen editor is that it instantly removes distracting thoughts from your mind and connects you to your most important thoughts by clearing the writing field of visual distractions.

When typing in other editors with all other windows and toolbars and icons peeping into your peripheral vision, it’s all too easy to lose your train of thought and waste your brain’s energy processing other annoying matters such as why was your girl friend behaving so strangely last night!

You see, our mind is a whiny little baby. It uses up most of its energy worrying about frivolous things that need least of your attention right now. And ignores any demands of concentrating on the task at hand.

When there’s a lot of stuff going on around you when you need to concentrate on a creative task, it mucks around for something to interrupt your concentration, and as soon as it’s found something, all that has gone wrong in your life seems to run like a film before your eyes.

This, or something similar is bound to happen to you if you write in a noisy, distracting environment. A screen full of colors, toolbars, and windows is the sort of visual noise you can’t afford to have around when writing.

Writing on a black screen with only your thoughts materializing on it is truly a blissful experience.

But what about formatting?

I know the kind of perfectionists we all have become. If we don’t write perfect content with words bolded out and lists nicely bulleted right as we put them down, we consider ourselves to be lousy and incapable writers.

If you write with this approach in mind, I seriously ask you to reconsider your approach.

If you want to change your approach and become a really efficient writer, take some time to read this post that I wrote earlier.

Stephen King, a famous fiction writer, puts it more beautifully than I ever can:

Put away your dictionary, your encyclopedias, your World Almanac, and your thesaurus. Better yet, throw your thesaurus into the wastebasket. The only things creepier than a thesaurus are those little paperbacks college students too lazy to read the assigned novels buy around exam time. Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. You think you might have misspelled a word? O.K., so here is your choice: either look it up in the dictionary, thereby making sure you have it right – and breaking your train of thought and the writer’s trance in the bargain – or just spell it phonetically and correct it later. Why not? Did you think it was going to go somewhere? And if you need to know the largest city in Brazil and you find you don’t have it in your head, why not write in Miami, or Cleveland? You can check it … but later. When you sit down to write, write. Don’t do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.

Customizing your full screen editor for best results

Here’s a screenshot of my customized Dark Room.

Dark Room Configuration

  • The page is 600px wide, centered, and with margins set to 10px. This gives the page a more ‘roomy’ feeling which is helpful for concentration.
  • The general background is black which is least distracting of all colors.
  • The page background is a dark gray with white text on it so it doesn’t pierce my eyes.
  • The font is Times New Roman because I’m still used to reading Serif fonts in print. The more familiarity = the less distraction.

But this is not the end of all configurations. Do what suits you best.

If you have used a full screen editor for writing before, please share your experience in comments.

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