- Dec 2021
The main feature of iA Writer is not having many features. The program is, essentially, a white rectangle, where the user can do little else but type in a custom monospaced font. There are no headers, footers, drawing tools, or chatty paper-clip assistants. The bare-bones interface uses special characters in a simple formatting language called Markdown to bold, italicize, or otherwise transform text—a way of encouraging writers to keep their hands on the keyboard and their minds on their work.
Using a completely blank page as the start of any creative endeavor is a miserable choice for writing. Start with some other object and annotate either on it or next to it. Look at something else as a base. Starting with blank nothing is a recipe for loneliness and disaster. So-called distraction free writing tools are the worst.
Didn't Ernest Hemmingway analogize staring at a blank page like facing a white bull? There is a litany of quotes about writers facing the blank page.
Why not, instead, use the advice of ancient rhetors by starting with the best? Become a bee and collect the best materials for your honey first. If we don't look to them, then perhaps follow the lesson taught by Benjamin Franklin on writing or the same lesson repeated in the movie Finding Forrester. Start with someone else's work and rewrite that until you find your own words. This is what makes writing while annotating so easy and simple. You've got a nice tapestry of textures to begin your work.
Giving birth to something fully formed as if from the head of Zeus is a fallacy. It only works for the gods.