Frequently Asked Questions

This page answers some of the frequently asked questions about First Draft App, a distraction free writing program.


Why Use First Draft App

Whether we are writing a book, blog, or essay, sitting down to write the first draft is always the hardest part. Unfortunately too many people struggle with their writing, and only get the writing done with a deadline approaching, or all too frequently they don’t get it done at all.

Good writing takes time, focus and effort. The unfortunate thing is that most writing software makes writing harder than it already is. First Draft App is here to get you started with your writing projects in the right way.

Where do writing programs go wrong?

Most writing software tries to do too much too soon. With modern computing power, writers can receive more assistance than ever while writing. This assistance could be the identification of spelling errors or grammar suggestions, with some software starting to offer editing suggestions before you have even reached the end of your sentence.

But just because we have the ability to do such things, should we?

The problem is that each distraction makes us pivot into a different state of mind: from creative into critical. It is no wonder that people lose motivation while writing when at every moment a warning is flashing on their screen to say something is wrong. These constant distractions mean we never truly sustain the focus and creative state of mind we need to write at our best. Additionally, the constant back-and-forth between writing and editing slows us down, and the lack of progress can soon lead to demotivation.

There is nothing inherently wrong with computers helping us write better. But the key understanding is that writing software can affect our state of mind during writing in many subtle ways. First Draft App is writing software that has been designed with this knowledge.

What does First Draft App do differently?

First Draft App is all about putting you in the right frame of mind while writing your first draft, helping you to stay focused and productive.

The first draft of any writing work is the process of translating the thoughts in our head to words on a page. The key word here is translating. Our mind allows us to think using words, but our mind also uses images, emotions, and other sensations. A lot of time we are clear with what we are trying to say in our mind, but when it comes to saying the same thing in written words, it becomes much more difficult than expected. This difficulty, however, is perfectly normal – as in reality we are translating between two entirely different forms of communication.

To write, or translate, at our best, we need to feel calm, allowing us to fully explore our thoughts and our choice of words to describe them. To do this we need to turn off the inner critic and silence the constant interrupting voice of “it’s not quite right” that triggers feelings of anxiety and discomfort while writing.

There is a key role for the inner critic while writing, but that role really begins in the second draft. The writing process is all about putting your effort into one thing at a time in a logical order. The first draft is for translating your thoughts onto the page, and the second draft is where the criticism and editing of that translation can begin.

First Draft App helps keep you in the right state of mind during the first draft. It does this by providing full screen, distraction free writing. There are no errors or warnings to interrupt your thought process, and only your most recent lines of writing are visible to you. Ultimately, the inner critic can’t worry about things it can’t see.

First Draft App also features a unique writing mode where once a sentence is done, it’s done. You can’t go back and edit. You avoid the temptation to begin early editing and always have your focus redirected back to the task at hand. In First Draft App you are encouraged to put all of your effort into writing the next sentence.

Doesn’t editing during the first draft make my writing better?

Not necessarily. In many cases editing during the first draft is wasting valuable time and energy. Beginning to edit your work before the completion of the first draft in many cases is like editing blindfolded. Much writing during the first draft is exploratory. The process of writing triggers thoughts in our mind, and in turn the process of writing these thoughts down triggers even more thoughts. In many instances, we might not know the full aim of our writing, but by continuing to write and explore themes and ideas, we eventually discover what we are trying to say.

Waiting until your first draft is complete before editing provides you more information to make informed editing decisions. The decision to delete a paragraph of writing, for example, could have a totally different outcome depending on its timing. Leaving such decisions until the first draft is complete will help you make better choices. First Draft App’s unique mode of writing stops pre-emptive editing, ensuring you only start editing when the time is right.

Don't the suggestions and corrections made by word processors save us time?

The writing process is all about delaying decisions until the best time to make them. With editing, it is logical to make the big decisions before the smaller ones. At the end of the first draft and beginning of the second, the initial decisions are around the structure and purpose of the writing. What is the beginning, middle, and end? What are the themes? After these critical decisions are made, the decisions can become more granular.

Most writing software repeatedly draws our attention to the smallest decisions we can make. Is a word spelt correctly? Is there incorrect punctuation? But in many instances, the smallest decisions are the final decisions that should be made. A prompt to correct a spelling error may seem helpful at first.

  • But is it the right word?
  • Can a more accurate word be used?
  • Should the sentence be refactored?
  • Or is the sentence even needed?

Many editing decisions need to be made before we can get really begin the final crafting of our sentences. Unfortunately, when writing a first draft, most writing software wants us to choose the colours of the curtains before we’ve even built the house.

So in the end, even though modern computers can establish errors in our writing in a matter of milliseconds, spending time dealing with those errors during the first draft might be a waste of time in the long run. There is very good chance that any edit done during the first draft could be entirely undone in subsequent drafts. In First Draft App, you are always encouraged to keep writing and avoid pre-emptive editing.

I frequently fail to reach my writing targets, can First Draft App help?

We've all done it: taken out the calendar and created a new writing plan. This time it'll be different, we say, and we’ll finally get our first draft done. But, in only a matter of days we have already failed to reach the target we set for ourselves.

There are two kinds of writing deadlines: ones that have consequences and ones that don’t. The school homework, the work deadline – these have real consequences if we miss them. These are the deadlines we find the energy to achieve. But for many of our own writing deadlines, there are no consequences if miss them. We may be disappointed in ourselves, but our boss isn’t going to fire us, and we are not going to fail the course.

In the face of the time and effort that we need to put into our writing to reach the deadline, a plan with no consequences can easily be re-adjusted or even discarded. It’s all too easy to justify it in the moment. We need that extra motivation to help us stick to the original plan.

First Draft App can help you hold yourself accountable for your writing goals. If you set a word or time target for a file, First Draft App will monitor your progress towards that target, only allowing you to export and edit your writing after reaching that goal. Once you make a commitment you have to see it through to the end. While pushing ourselves to reach our writing targets is always going to be hard, First Draft App can give you that extra motivation and reward for getting it done.


Writing Targets in First Draft App

How do I create a writing target?

Writing targets are created on a file by file basis. When creating a file you will be given the option to select from four different target types:

  • Word target: target a total amount of words written.
  • Time target: target a total amount of time spent writing.
  • Words per day: target a daily word count for one or more days.
  • Time per day: target a daily writing time for one or more days.

After selecting a target type, you will be given options to set the exact amount of writing you want to do.

Do I need to create a writing target for every file?

Not at all! At its heart First Draft App is a distraction free writing app that aims to keep it simple. By default files are created in Free Write mode, where you can write without a set target and export your writing out of the app at any time. A writing target for a file is something you will always opt-in to.

Do I need to set a writing target in order to track my word count?

By default First Draft App tracks total words written and total time writing for every file – no matter whether a writing target for that file has been set or not. After opening a file and clicking on calendar icon, you can also see a summary of the writing you did for the file on a daily basis.

If I create a target, do I have to finish it?

It depends on what mode you select when creating the target. By default, files will be created in non-enforced mode. In this mode you will get feedback on your progress against your writing target, but you do not have to complete that target before exporting your writing out of the app.

If you decide to use enforced mode when creating the target, you will have to fully complete your chosen writing target before you can export your writing out of the app in plain text format. Use this mode when you want to give yourself that extra motivation to reach your target!

If I'm using an enforced writing target, how can I back-up my writing?

First Draft App includes a mechanism that lets you back-up your writing for enforced writing targets that are not yet completed. Any export you make before reaching your target will contain your writing in First Draft App’s special encrypted file-format. While you will be unable to access your writing as plain text, you will be able to place a copy of your writing in a location of your choice to create a back-up version. If you need to recover this version, you can open the file with First Draft App and continue writing towards your target.

Can I edit a target after creating it?

You cannot change a writing target’s type or details after file creation. First Draft App is all about making writing targets into real commitments. We’ve personally found it all too easy to adjust writing targets in the moment and justify putting off writing until "tomorrow". By not allowing editing of targets, we hope it gives writers more motivation to deliver on their initial commitment.

Will I lose my writing if I fail to reach a target?

First Draft App will never delete your writing for failing to reach a writing target. The app aims to provide encouragement for users to reach their writing goals but not punishment for failing them. If you are using an enforced writing target, no matter the target type or settings, you’ll always have the option available to achieve your target and access the full contents of your file. Some targets may reset your progress if you fail to write a specific amount on a specific day, but even so, you can always try again.

For a daily target do I have to write every single day?

By default, daily targets (words or time) are created in non-consecutive mode. This means that you do not have to write every day when pursuing your target. Use this mode when your plan doesn’t involve writing on consecutive days: such as writing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week.

When creating a daily target you can also opt-in to consecutive mode. This means that you must complete your daily writing target on consecutive days until reaching your target day count. If you miss a day or fail to reach the daily target, you won't lose your writing, but your progress against your target will reset to zero. Use this mode if you plan involves writing for a series of consecutive days. That could be every weekday or even every day of the month.

Can I complete a daily target early my doing tomorrow’s writing today?

In First Draft App there is nothing stopping you exceeding your daily writing target. We all have good writing days after all! Exceeding your target for the day, however, will not count towards any future days’ writing goals. For example, if your target is 500 words a day for five days, you will have to complete at least 500 words of writing on five distinct calendar days to complete your target. 600 words today will not mean 400 words tomorrow.

I want to encourage myself to write every day, what settings should I use?

To hold yourself accountable for writing every day, we recommend you use a daily target (words or time) with both the consecutive days and enforced options enabled.

With these settings, a daily target of 500 words for 7 days means you really do have to write 500 words every day without fail for 7 straight days in order to export your writing out of First Draft App at the end of it. If you fail to write 500 words on any day, your progress against the target will reset. You won’t lose any writing but you will be back to day one in regards to progress.

When first using these settings, we recommend you start with a small daily target in order to build up a consistent daily writing habit before tackling a larger daily goal.

What is the maximum target I can set for a file?

The maximum word target is 50,000 words. The maximum time target is 20 hours. For daily targets you can set a target of up to 5,000 words per day or 5 hours per day. The maximum amount of days that can be targeted is 30.

Can I achieve my target writing time by just leaving the app running?

First Draft App has an inbuilt mechanism to prevent this. If you are using any form of time target for a file, First Draft will monitor the time between your key presses when you are writing. If there is a period of two minutes without a key press, the writing mode will automatically exit.


General Usage of First Draft App

How do I see a summary of all the writing I’ve done in the app?

The main calendar screen, accessed via the left-hand navigation menu, shows a summary of all the writing (words and time) you have done in First Draft App on a daily basis.

I want to delete a file. Will I lose a record of my writing?

After deleting a file, you will not be able to see the specific writing history for that file or access the file’s text content. However, the writing you did for that file will still count towards the stats you see on the main calendar screen, which shows a daily summary of all the writing you have done in the app.

Does First Draft App automatically back-up my writing?

First Draft App does not automatically make a back-up of your writing as we understand everyone likes to do it differently. To make a back-up of an opened file, click the “Export” button and choose a folder you want to export your writing to. Whether you use USB drive, or a cloud drive, First Draft will remember the last file path that you exported your writing to in order to speed up the process in the future.

What file formats does First Draft App export my writing in?

First Draft keeps it simple and exports your writing in either Rich Text Format (.rtf) or Text (.txt) on Windows, and Text (.txt) on macOS. This enables you to use the writing application of your choice for the editing of your writing.


Help and Support

I’m having problems with First Draft App, how can I get help?

If you are having any issues with First Draft App, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via contact@first-draft.app. We also welcome any feedback you have – so please get in touch!

Why is there a price difference between the Windows and macOS versions?

The base price for First Draft App on all platforms is $14.99 (USD). However each platform’s app store has its own methodology for converting this price into non-USA regions. If you live outside the USA there may be some small pricing differences between the two platforms in your region.

How can I get a refund for First Draft App?

The refund process is handled by the app store you purchased First Draft from. Please see the product refund guides for Windows and Apple.

I’m interested in writing about First Draft App. Can I get a free copy?

If you are looking to review or write content about First Draft App you may be able to get a free copy of the app on the platform of your choice. Please contact marketing@first-draft.app with a summary of your intended content and a link to your website.


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