The internet is a distracting place. Admit it: you’re reading this instead of working right now. One company hopes to combat this—for writers, at least—with a dedicated writing device, without any internet access.
The Freewrite Traveler, an e-ink display with a keyboard and no web browser, is all over the web today, with reviews on The Verge, Engadget, and PC World. The idea, basically, is that a dedicated machine for writing—without access to Twitter, Instagram, and other distractions—will help writers actually write.
All this for $600, or $300 for early bird backers. Here’s Kris Naudus, writing for Engadget:
Sure, you could just drop some cash on a copy of Scrivener instead, turn off the WiFi on your laptop and hope you get some work done. But when you inevitably cave and end up refreshing your Twitter feed for the 100th time, the Freewrite’s spartan approach to writing might start looking pretty good.
I’m not discounting the idea that this could help some people. It might.
But if you’re distracted now, odds are you’ll find ways to be distracted even if you’re using an e-ink device without an internet connection—if only because your phone is likely still in your pocket. No dedicated device is going to help you focus until you make the active decision not to be distracted. Buying something is no shortcut to making that decision.
I had a good friend in college who kept buying more and more equipment for working out, but never actually got around to exercising. I think for many people the Freelance Traveller will become the productivity version of the treadmill and weight kit taking up space in the basement: a monument to good intentions that were never followed up on.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t purchase such a device, only that nothing can magically make you focus. That’s going to have to be a decision you make, and it’s not going to be easy—regardless of whether you buy something like this. It’s still a decision that’s worth making.