Writing App Reviews … ilys

by Kathy Edens Jul 13, 2016, 0 Comments

Where We Write...ILYS

We’re covering another app this month that we think you’ll either love or hate: ilys

If you missed the prior two months in the series, you can catch up by reading Writing App Reviews… Scrivener and Writing App Reviews … Ulysses.

Struggling with Your Internal Editor

What’s more intimidating than the blank screen staring you in the face with that blinking cursor annoying the heck out of you?

Your internal editor is sitting on your shoulder or hiding in the back halls of your mind, whispering “You can’t do this” and “All you write is garbage.”

Let’s face it—everyone’s been there. Yes, even JK Rowling.

There are plenty of self-help articles out there telling you to tune out and turn off your internal editor and just get the words down on paper. They even offer you vague tips on how to accomplish it.

But if your internal editor is strong (and even if it’s not), that’s easier said than done, especially when your words are there on the screen to judge and find wanting.

Introducing ilys

I’d heard about ilys, this amazing online program that lets you only see one letter at a time of the words you’re typing. You can’t see what you’ve already said, which helps you focus instead on what you’re going to say.

This puts you in the flow. It lets your creativity jump ahead of your internal editor and crank out the words without worrying about typos and spelling errors.

Here’s all you see as you write… the last letter you typed:

ILYS Screenshot

The screen is black with nothing on it, but the word count at the top and the last letter you typed in the center. You can’t backspace or delete. The only thing you can do is keep writing. It’s incredibly freeing.

How ilys Works

ilys can be somewhat intimidating at first, not because it’s complex or unwieldy, but because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever used. Here’s what the screen looks like as you begin a writing session:

ILYS Screenshot

You enter in your word count goal in the box at the top, and click on the go-button beneath “Ready to flow?” to get started. There’s no other steps involved. Couldn’t be easier.

My first attempt at using ilys I chose a mere 200 word goal, thinking that would be enough to give me a taste for using the program. It took me 7 minutes to write 200 words—not bad, I thought. It usually takes me about an hour to write 500 words because I edit and polish as I go.

The second attempt, after I got the hang of writing what I thought instead of analyzing everything I put down, took me 7 minutes to write 500 words. Definitely an increase in output.

The screen is completely blank except for the last letter you typed until you’ve reached your word goal. Once you’ve hit your goal, an orange arrow appears at the right that takes you to the editing screen where you can see what you wrote and make changes if you want. Here’s what the editing screen looks like:

ILYS Screenshot

At this point, you can save your “session.” Ilys lets you create “stories” (these could be your novel, your blog post, or anything else you need to create). Sessions are all saved under the story you choose or a new one you create, and each story can hold countless sessions of work. A session could be a chapter in your novel or a single scene. Ilys lets you organize your work in the way that best suits your preferences.

ILYS Screenshot

Special Features

A dashboard gives you control over everything in ilys. From the dashboard, you can create a new session or see a graph showing how productive you’ve been that day.

ILYS Screenshot

You also have access to all of your stories and sessions from the dashboard. From here, you can tell your total word count for the entire story, not just each session.

ILYS Screenshot

You can click on the name of your story and review each session. You also have the opportunity to download your entire story, or you can choose to download only a session. Ilys puts your content in an easy-to-use text file.

Another great feature is that ilys lives in the cloud, which means you have access to your work from different computers and from anywhere you have an internet connection.

After you get used to using ilys, consider trying the special feature they call “Ninja Mode.” This turns everything on the screen off while you type. You don’t see letters or word count or anything that can distract you from your purpose: getting the words down.

Final Thoughts

If you like to take your work to the local coffee shop, but don’t want people to be able to see what you’re typing on the screen, give ilys a try. You can pour out your deepest, darkest secrets in the company of strangers, and no one will ever be the wiser.

ilys offers a free trial of 3,000 words to everyone. It’s simple and quick to sign up, easy to use, and might just help you get 50,000 words down in less than 30 days so you can win NaNoWriMo this year. At the very least, you’ll get your first draft done much quicker with ilys.

Interested in writing technology? Check out these posts from our archive:


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About the Author:

Kathy Edens is a blogger, a ghost writer, and content master who loves writing about anything and everything. Check out her book The Novel-Writing Training Plan: 17 Steps to Get Your Ideas in Shape for the Marathon of Writing or contact her at www.kathy-edens.com.

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