Writing is hard. To do it I usually have to prepare myself with vigorous stretches, vocal exercises, and a robust bowel movement. Every. Single. Day. But what tools do I use to write? Tools like First Draft.
First Draft comes from Ben Watanabe and Dave Smith and their software house, 96 Problems. Watanabe and Smith both live in Japan and have worked in VC and M&A. Their house is focused on creating cool tools that work well and then monetizing them. First Draft is their first product.
“The idea behind 96 Problems is to make ‘simple solutions for small problems,'” said Smith. “Rather than raise money behind a ‘big idea’ from the start, we hack together products rapidly and ship, then get feedback quickly and decide whether to continue or not. If a product strikes a chord with a particular community and we think it has potential to be valuable, we’ll then commit more resources and build it up, and raise behind that if an opportunity exists.”
The app is free but costs $15 to get a version that lets you export projects into other software.
The app lets you create folders for larger projects and then separate files for each chapter or story. As a dedicated Scrivener user I rarely stick with other editors but First Draft seems like a very interesting, distraction-free solution to random scribblings. You can even add little placeholders for images that you want to add later – but not the image itself. By reducing the complexity you create a universe of thought unavailable in behemoths like Word and even Google Docs.
“First Draft is a place to start. It is not a replacement to a text-editor or word processor. In fact, it’s probably the world’s worst text-editor. That’s because it’s only for writing,” said Smith. “It helps you to not sweat the small stuff, by not letting you easily ‘fix’ small mistakes. Again, it’s not a replacement to text-editors — after your first draft is finished, we’ve made it easy to (and are creating dedicated processes for) exporting to the many awesome text-editing software and publishing platforms that exist out there that everyone is familiar (Ulysses, Medium, etc.).”
Smith says the app helps you “stop deleting and start writing.”
The team is working on improving the app by adding new features and improved export systems. Because it is a place for first thought, best though, I suspect the average wordmonger can use the app to write a roll-like manuscript for the next great American road novel in the next few years. If not that then a nice Medium post.