Ommwriter. Now available for Windows, and a bit on Flow

OmmWriter has been released for Windows. It appears to be identical to the Mac version, with an addtion of an “Export to PDF” option. OmmWriter is a text editor, nothing more, nothing less. It does not even have an option for printing. There are four font possiibilities for viewing text on the screen; a sans-serif, serif, a monospaced typewriter font and an almost unreadable script font.

There are a couple of unusual enhancements that are intended to promote concentration while writing. the first is a set of sound files which play ambient background music. One selection includes a bell and gamalan-like series of ringing sounds that you might expect to hear in a Buddist monestary.

The other innovation is visual. OmmWriter takes over the full screen of your Mac or PC, and blots out all other icons and sounds… forcing you to concentrate on writing without distraction. You can choose from a number of screen backgrounds which consist of soft grays, white or pastel blue.  Once you begin writing, within a resizable frame on the screen, the frame borders and attendent icons fade away, leaving only your text and a small horizontal cursor. If you move the mouse, then the frame reappears with a word-count at the bottom.  This makes OmmWriter an excellent medium for creative writing of any kind, including diaries, morning pages, or input for 750 words.

The best thing is that it is free to try out. The free and paid versions are identical, with the addition in the paid version of additional screen backgrounds, extra ambient sound backgrounds, and the ability to select from a variety of typing sounds. The publisher allows you to pay what ever you like, but suggests that it should end in 11, an amount which supposedly has cosmic significance.

After using the program on the Mac for several months, I have to say, I think this is one of the more pleasurable instances where my work has been improved by software (of all things!). Not only have I written a great deal more, I enjoy and I look forward to the process of writing. Without the distraction of dozens of icons, controls, wizards, options and ribbons, I find that I can concentrate better and achieve that elusive state of Flow.

What would an equivalent spreadsheet program might look like?  How much can you take away and still have a functional and useful spreadsheet program? You could remove more than you might think. You need columns and rows, of course, and the ability to put in formulas and totals. Everything after this is probably extra functionality. Indeed there is anecdotal evidence that people use about 20% of the functionality of most software.

Poking around to find more about Flow,  the WikiPedia entry lists ten attributes of Flow:

  1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one’s skill set and abilities). Moreover, the challenge level and skill level should both be high.
  2. Concentrating, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
  3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
  4. Distorted sense of time, one’s subjective experience of time is altered.
  5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
  6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
  7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
  8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
  9. A lack of awareness of bodily needs (to the extent that one can reach a point of great hunger or fatigue without realizing it)
  10. Absorption into the activity, narrowing of the focus of awareness down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.

Not all are needed for flow to be experienced.

If you believe in the concept of Flow, and have experienced it,  it is sobering to look at the ten items and ask, how often within our current educational system and our workplaces is it possible to experience some of the Flow attributes?

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