Recently I’ve been toying with some software tools to try and focus my writing a little better, stumbling across an application called Q10. A full-screen text editor which is, according to the website, “a simple but powerful text editor designed and built with writers in mind.”
Whenever I start a new piece of work I tend to write up notes in text files first, before moving them into FrameMaker for formatting and publishing. This was largely borne from limitations in Structured FrameMaker, and sits well with our usage of an internal Wiki for content collaboration. Q10 helps with this approach by doing one thing very well.
Like most well-designed products, the features are usable out of the box, but there is enough scope for tweaking things to get a system that suits you. The full-screen aspect of Q10 is the most important, blacking out the rest of the screen and leaving you with a blank slate on which to focus your thoughts. There is no menubar, with options only available through keyboard shortcuts, including one to turn off the typewriter noises which I’ve left on as they are somewhat soothing… oddly.
You can set the file encoding, a target number of words (handy if you are writing an article), change the font and colour settings, and it supports quick text allowing you to replace given character combinations with whatever you specify (I use this for product names, although you have to search and replace on the underlying text file if the name changes).
At first I was only really using Q10 for writing blog posts and articles, but I’ve started to extend it into my set of ‘work’ tools and it’s proving very useful. Sure it gets some odd looks as people glance at your screen but I certainly seem to be more capable of focusing on my writing these days.
I’ve tried a few other full-screen text editors (for Mac and Windows) but as the bulk of my writing time is spent on Windows machines, Q10 is proving very useful. Best of all it’s free!