A Review of Sprinter

A person writing at a table in a notebook/journal.

So, for the past couple of days, I’ve been using the Sprinter distraction-free writing environment by Freewrite/Astrohaus. And so far, I think it’s an okay environment to give you a semi-distraction free writing environment.

The Sprinter environment is rather simple. It’s a drafting tool with no formatting tools, no spell check, only one real way to go back and edit things (the backspace key). It is good for what it is: a way to birth your ideas into the world. Editing comes later. In this sense, Sprinter does its job.

The Good

Firstly, it’s free. And I don’t mean it in the same sense as the Danger Notes app is free, but it has ads once you finish each sprint. I mean it in the sense that it’s not only free but ad-free. You can use the environment as a completely distraction-free writing environment.

Secondly, it allows you to sign up for Postbox, which is their own syncing service. I wanted to sign up for Postbox immediately because I had recently bought a Freewrite Hemingway Special Edition Smart Typewriter. Though, that’s a bit of a mouthful so I’m just going to call it the Hemingwrite. Postbox also allows you to set up a connection between it and Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive. I chose Evernote because I have over a decade’s worth of notes in there.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it gives you (to a certain degree) the space and freedom to just write. In just two days, I wound up writing 3,844 words across two projects I am working on.

Fourthly, it gets you to commit to and explore ideas because, again, you’re disincentivized to go back and fix things. For example, I thought that I wanted to give my main character strawberry blonde hair but then, I had realized that a paragraph or two before, I gave her red hair. Now, if I were on Scrivener, I could have just gone back to that paragraph and fixed it. However, because I was in Sprinter, if I wanted to go back, I would have had to delete everything I had written from that point. In short, you’re sort of incentivized to commit to what you’ve written and move on.

The Bad

Now, time to get down to the bad. And the first bad thing is that sometimes, inexplicably, you can lose your whole draft. Now, thankfully, I had the wherewithal to set up Postbox pretty quickly upon getting the membership. This included syncing to Evernote. There was a time delay between when I lost the draft and when it would be removed from Evernote, so I had to act fast. I was able to grab a fairly complete copy of what I lost, copy and paste it into Scrivener and finish the sprint.

Now, if you’re just saving this to Postbox, you’ll likely have a bad time. But, if you save it to a third party streaming service like Evernote, you’ll probably be able to recover your draft. But why should you have to be prepared like that?

The Ugly

Firstly, by default, you’re going to be using Folder A with no means of moving content between folders. Now, with any review of the Freewrite Smart Typewriter or Traveller, you’ll know that one of the things you get is a folder system that lets you sort drafts into three folders, A, B, and C. However, when you use Sprinter, everything saves into Folder A and I’m not entirely sure why.

Secondly, and this is crucial, you’re (presumably) accessing it on your computer. And this leaves you open to notifications. While it is true you can disable most (or all) notifications by creating different focuses in OS X, this doesn’t stop Facebook from pinging in your browser if you have it in another tab. It doesn’t stop the other apps you have open from showing their red dots to try to get your attention.

Also, if you want to use it as a drafting site to blog, you might find it difficult to use a more rigid template. After all, this is just a blank screen for you to put your text on. Copying and pasting don’t work in this environment.

Sprinter, in Summary

Overall, would I continue to use Sprinter? Long term, no. But until UPS sends me my new Hemingwrite, I think I’ll continue to use Sprinter to draft with the keen awareness to have Evernote at the ready to pop open just in case it eats another one of my drafts.

Also, I earned an achievement for writing my first 1,000 words through the service. I hope that the image for this achievement has a transparent background so it’ll look nice whenever I get around to setting up dark mode on this site. 🙂

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