Write or Die 2 Review: Writing Motivation with a Twist

Write or Die 2 Review: Desktop Edition

There are countless writing applications out there, each serving different purposes to help freelance writers succeed. While most apps do an exceptional job, none of them are useful if you can’t get motivated to write in the first place.

Some developers understand this, and that has led to the creation of a very useful productivity app that attempts to end writer’s block and increase motivation all at once.

Introducing Write or Die 2:

Available for: Windows/Mac/Linux/iPad/iPhone

App author: Dr. Wicked/Jeff Printy

Price: $20

Write or Die 2 is an amusing, but surprisingly handy word editor designed with one purpose: To get you to finish your work. The program lacks the standard features found on platforms like Microsoft Word, all for the sake of minimizing distractions and maximizing productivity.

In fact, all you see while writing is a blank screen, along with some word count statistics and minor features, which we will get to later in this review.

So what makes Write or Die 2 so special? Prior to writing, you are introduced to a huge amount of unconventional options designed to keep you writing. Let’s take a closer look…

Main Features:

Customize word count milestone:  Set the amount of words you wish to write in one sitting, which goes up to 3,000 as of the latest version [November 2015). This word count limit is ideal because it keeps you from writing too much, which may inadvertently trigger burnout periods.

Customize timer/countdown: Set the time you need to finish writing the aforementioned milestone. For best results, you should challenge yourself by keeping a tight deadline. If you normally write 1,000 words in 45 minutes, for example, try lowering the timer to only 40 minutes.

Auto-save Option: Write or Die 2 conveniently saves your work every couple of seconds as you type, enabling a “set and forget” experience and keeping you writing without a care in the world. The saving location is set by you, the writer.

Reward Mode:

Select image reward: This is where Write or Die 2 gets both hilarious and addicting. For every milestone reached, the program shows you one of several pleasant images such as a beautiful forest or cute puppies. You may also upload a custom image from your computer to ensure you remain motivated with new visuals over time.

Select sound reward: In addition to positive images, you can optionally set positive sounds (such as a low purr) which are triggered once you reach a milestone.

Consequence Mode:

Unpleasant Image: Couldn’t finish writing on time? Too bad; Write or Die 2 optionally shows you one of several negative images (such as a bloody disgusting spider).

Unpleasant sounds: Self-explanatory; the app would play a loud and annoying sound if you slack off.

Kamikaze mode and startle mode: Kamikaze mode will delete words (or portions of each word) until you resume writing. This is by far the one thing that keeps me on the edge of my seat, and I mean this in a good way. The screen would first change color as a warning, which you can also disable if you wish to be startled.

Stimulus Mode:

Set a stimulating sound and environment: Stimulus mode is very similar to the above, with images and sounds playing a central role.

A pleasant, relaxing image (such as a beach setting and/or the sound of rain) will play for as long as you keep writing, and subsequently fade away as soon as you stop. This is a nice change of pace from the “reward vs. consequence” system that society is used to.

Other Features:

The above are only a portion of everything Write or Die 2 brings to the table.

To make sure you don’t deviate to unimportant things (cough! Facebook, cough!) you can disable the Delete, backspace and arrow keys and just typing away, worrying about all corrections later. You may additionally disable exiting the program (surrendering) until you are done. Can you handle all of this?

If you feel like celebrating with friends or fellow freelance writers, the app also asks you to share your victories via built-in social media buttons once the session is over.

Additionally, Write or Die 2 stores general statistics such as your all-time word count, the average word count per session, and the times you have triggered a reward/punishment.

Other minor (but useful) features allow you to change background and text color. All in all, you have endless combinations between all available features, which makes this app a delight for freelance writers.

Oh, did I mention it does not have a built-in spell checker? It’s up to you whether to consider this an anti-distraction feature, or simply an error on the developer’s part.


I love the Write or Die desktop edition as much as the next guy, but not everything is perfect. For starters, you cannot upload a custom image from the main Consequence/Stimulus modes, leaving you with the poor selection that was built into the app. The shock value inevitably fades away as you keep being punished with the same things.

Speaking of multimedia, there is currently no way to preview the selected file, forcing you to experience it only in real-time.

Lastly, and this is a big one, the author is apparently too busy (or just doesn’t give a darn) about its paying customers, as most support tickets and concerns tend to go unanswered. I have personally sent him an email or two and never heard back, with other people experiencing similar results.

If you ever get this program, just remember that you will likely not have a great support system in place. That said, the application is updated fairly often, so at least we know its author isn’t 100% selfish. Hopefully this Write or Die 2 review will serve as constructive feedback – with the best intentions at heart.

Write or Die 2 Review: Conclusion

Write or Die 2 has come a long way since I reviewed the first version a few years ago.

Write or Die 2 is the perfect app for those into creative writing and those who can sit and bleed words without stopping much in between. If you are a short story author, for example, this application may be ideal.

If your work requires heavy maintenance (research, facts, etc) and needs you to be more meticulous, then I suggest you skip it.

You can try Write or Die 2 online on their official website before you buy it.

Have you used Write or Die 2? What do you think of the app and what do you use it for?