Draftback: Instant Replay For Writers

Draftback: Instant Replay For Writers

A lot of attempts have been made to show a writer’s process. What time does he wake up in the morning? How much booze or coffee does he drink? How much booze goes into his coffee?

Draftback is a new Chrome extension that goes quite a bit deeper.

Rather than examining the habits of a writer outside of writing, Draftback is actually about the writing.

It turns out that Chrome is tracking your every keystroke, all the time, forever. Well, okay. Maybe not forever. But when you make a document, it logs everything you do, including hitting the backspace or delete key (is this a raging debate yet? Backspace v. Delete?), changing formatting, and slicing the ending off a word.

What Draftback allows you to do, in theory, is watch a document come to life, one keystroke at a time.

James Somers, Draftback developer, wants to test it out with great writers. He cites critic A.O. Scott as his ideal example. Scott could work up a piece from scratch, and then others could watch the Draftback replay, see how he does it, and learn a little more about Scott’s writing process.

What could we learn from great writers? What are the advantages of laying out the whole process?

Potentially, there’s a great deal to be learned. While the overall habits of writers are well-trod territory, the overall work isn’t. What happens in those hours when the writer is at the desk?

On the other hand, if it takes a writer hundreds of hours to finish a manuscript, how many of those moments will be truly instructive? And who is going to watch it all happen to pick out the important parts.

On a strangely-mutated but kind of cool third hand, are writers open to others seeing how the sausage is made, as we say? As some people say. I don’t say that because it seems gross. But the question remains, do writers want everyone poking about in their business? Do you?

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Josh Zancan's picture
Josh Zancan from Crofton, MD is reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck March 6, 2015 - 10:18am

I don't really care if people see how my "sausage is made", but I wouldn't want to see it myself.  It's like if you make a certain face a lot without realizing it, or have some tick, like you start every sentence with, "The kicker is".  Once someone points it out to you, you'll catch yourself doing it everytime - a new sort of self-conciousness (or awareness, depending on how you want to view it).  The point is, for me, it'd be distracting.

Joseph Wendell Miller's picture
Joseph Wendell ... March 7, 2015 - 4:07pm

Sounds boring as fuck, to be honest.