4thewords is a site that aims to make writing into a video game. It accomplishes this through users battling monsters and completing quests through writing words.
The game provides a variety of monsters to be defeated by writing a certain number of words in a given time period. Both these and the quests can be ignored by clicking on the “write” menu tab instead of the “play” menu tab if a user chooses to focus on writing instead of the game.
The site costs $4 per month, but can be lowered through the use of core crystals which can be earned in the game and used to extend your subscription.
I decided to use 4thewords’s 30 day free trial this month while I completed my Camp NaNoWriMo project. The experience has been good overall. I think there are a lot of people who will find the site useful. However, I’m not sure whether or no not I will purchase a subscription in the future.
My favorite aspect of 4thewords is the way it makes writing feel as much like a video game as possible. The monster battles and rewards for writing are great motivation. For me personally, my hesitation about whether or not I will purchase a subscription comes down to the fact that I’m not sure these features are enough to make me willing to pay $4 a month for the site.
I have a good system in place already for writing first drafts. The monster battles are, in essence word sprints. There are other methods I can use for free to mimic the monster battles through word sprints without paying.
At this point first drafts come easily to me, the real challenge lies in finding a way to break down the editing process in a similar manor to how this site breaks down first draft writing. This site doesn’t help with editing.
This would be different for someone at an earlier stage in their writing journey. This site would have been invaluable when I was still at a point where I struggled to stay focused long enough to finish a first draft.
Where I would find 4thewords more helpful today is in writing something I don’t want to. The trouble with using it to write my novel is that fiction writing is something I really want to do. This site would be more useful motivation for writing things I don’t want to. For example, this website could make writing a thesis or lengthy essay a breeze.
Since starting this project was something I wanted to do more than almost anything else in the world, I found the extra features distracting.
Everything was easy to figure out, but even with this simple adjustment period I at first found these extra features annoying because I had to figure out how I could work past them to do what I wanted: start writing.
I came to love the monster battles for their word sprint like nature but at first found the monster battles annoying because I would become so absorbed in my project that I would forget that I’d started the battle.
Again, I think this would not be a problem for someone less motivated than I was to work on their project. It’s obvious to anyone not 100 percent absorbed in their project to tell when a monster battle is taking place.
As I continued to work on my project, my motivation dropped and I gained more appreciation for some of the sites features. I adore the way that the site uses a streak to encourage writing every day. The streak led to me writing on days when I would have otherwise told myself I didn’t have time because I didn’t want my streak to go away.
On the other hand, the most annoying feature of the site is the way it saves projects. Each scene has its own file. This isn’t the problem. In fact, this makes it easier to work with long projects. The problem was that there seems to be a limit on how many chapters a project can have, which my work in progress greatly exceeded. The site also doesn’t automatically add new scenes to the end of the document. Instead, I had to drag the new files I created into place.
The site is also slow to update the number of words written and keep track of it’s countdown clock. When I’m battling monsters, the section labeled “time left” almost always reads “00 h 00 m” no matter how much time remains. Luckily, the end time shown underneath of this battle remains accurate.
I’m used to using writing programs that update in real time. The 4thewords site has a three second delay. This leaves me confused as to why my word count doesn’t go up as soon as I type a new word.
The best aspect of the site’s word count feature is that it keeps track of the total number of words users write even if they delete them while also keeping track of the number of words that are actually in the document. I’ve never used another writing program that does this. It gives me a clearer idea of what I’ve accomplished each day.
This isn’t the site’s only means to keep track of how much a user writes each day, the progress calendar allows users to click to see how many minutes and words were written on a given day.
I find this inspiring. It leaves me in awe to know for certain that I’ve already spent over 24 hours working on my current novel length work. I’ve never had the amount of time I’ve spent on my projects laid out so clearly before.
I’ve never applied my rating scale to anything other than books before, but have chosen to give 4thewords a 3.5/5. If it were cheaper and the glitches went away I could see myself giving the website a higher rating.
I think the website is the motivation many writers need. However, I already have a system in place that works, so it’s not worth the cost for me personally.
I’d also like to point out that this site is currently in early access mode. This means there could be many improvements still to come. Keep that in mind if you’re reading this review long after it was published.
What writing sites and programs do you use? Do you use or plan to use 4thewords? Should I review more writing software?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!