I’ve used a lot of different writing tools over the years, and most of them don’t last long. I have a burst of enthusiasm, then I slip back to my old bad habits (i.e. no habits at all). There’s one tool that I’ve been using for the past few months, though, that I think is a real winner. It’s a website called 4thewords.
What is 4thewords?
First, a quick description. 4thewords is an online RPG crossed with a writing productivity tool. To progress through the storyline, you have to earn items, complete quests, and defeat monsters. And the only way to do that is by writing! When I first started using the site, a few months ago, there were a few things I didn’t like, such as the lack of mobile functionality, and the awkward way files and projects were structured. BUT, I am delighted to say that these problems have been fixed! 4thewords is now new and shiny, with all kinds of excellent features – including mobile, which is fantastic for reaching your writing goals even on a busy day.
Should you use 4thewords?
Of course, much as I like 4thewords, I know that no one writing tool or technique is right for everyone. So, based on my experience so far, I’ve put together a list of pros and cons, so that you can decide whether it’s worth looking into. They also have a month-long full-featured trial, so it’s worth checking it out for yourself!
Pros of 4thewords
- Having monsters to defeat by writing forces me to keep writing, even at points when I might otherwise have paused and forgotten to come back.
- Defeating a monster gives me regular, small-scale achievements. Writing a book is a long and largely thankless task, so it’s fun to have regular confidence boosts.
- It works on mobile, which means you can access your work anywhere, on any device – very useful for squeezing in a few words at different times during the day.
- It encourages you to maintain a daily streak.
- There are leaderboards, which is great if you’re competetive (like me) and enjoy watching your rank gradually improve.
- You can earn powerups and valuable pieces of equipment, which make it even easier to defeat monsters.
- The game has a fun storyline and lets you explore different worlds.
- There are occasional special events and short-term challenges, which are great for giving an extra burst of enthusiasm.
- It has a nice big writing screen, with a fullscreen mode to minimise distractions.
- There’s a 4thewords forum if you want to connect with other writers.
- They’re an official NaNoWriMo partner.
Cons of 4thewords
- You do have to pay. Currently, it’s about $4 a month. BUT, the first month is free, and if you sign up with my special referral code (AYLXL08742), you’ll also get your second month for 50% off. This might make it out of reach for some people (and put me off at first), but $4 per month is a pretty low fee for something this helpful.
- The RPG style won’t suit everyone. You might not really enjoy this kind of game, or you might find it frustrating trying to complete all the quests when you really just want to write.
- It only works online. So, if you need to do a lot of your writing without an internet connection, this might frustrate you.
- The mobile version is a little cramped compared to writing in a purpose-built app. But the mobile version is very new, so I have faith that things will continue to improve!
- If you write very slowly, or can only write occasionally, it’s possible that you’ll find the site discouraging rather than encouraging. I’ve seen some talk in the forums about making a version that’s more accessible for those who find writing difficult, but I don’t know if that will actually happen.
Conclusion: I’m glad I found 4thewords
Unfortunately, I can’t remember who first pointed me in the direction of 4thewords. It’s a shame, because I’d like to thank them. I find it to be a great tool for increasing my writing productivity, and turning daily writing into something fun. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy writing – I absolutely love it – but the task of sitting down and beginning to type can sometimes seem daunting. It’s easier to battle a virtual monster than to wrestle with my own self-discipline.
Want to try 4thewords yourself?
Sign up with my special referral code (AYLXL08742), and you’ll get a free trial month PLUS 50% off your first paid month! (and I get money off as well)
P.S. I wrote this blog post in 4thewords! And I’m also writing my current novel, and working on an essay for my PhD. I like it that much!