Deep Work, Ulysses, the 700-Word Challenge and Woodridge

I read a lot of books. Deep Work by Cal Newport, one of my recent reads, is a fantastic book. Ulysses is an epic piece of writing software. The two are a perfect match, and I like a challenge!


Deep Work

In late January, I read Deep Work by Cal Newport. I’m always keen to find better ways to work, and I liked the book’s general premise. In short, deep work—that is valuable work not easily replicated—requires focus and distraction-free time to create. Creative writing most definitely falls into this category. The quality of Raging Swan Press’s supplements is of paramount important and anything that helps make our products even more awesome is a Good Thing.


Ulysses is a simple markdown text editor with an epic full-screen writing mode.

My full-screen writing mode. Zero distractions.

Full screen mode gets rid of everything except the text you are working on. With no distractions, and practically no formatting to do, its easy to focus on writing. As an aside, I wouldn’t lay out a Raging Swan Press product in Ulysses, but it has many handy export functions to punt your work into Word (or whatever piece of software you use for layout).

I’ve been working in Ulysses since the beginning of the year and it has definitely enhanced my productivity. I now write all my blog posts and 20 Things articles using Ulysses. For me, it’s the perfect accompaniment to Deep Work.

The 700-Word Challenge

Around the start of February, I also hankered after doing a spot of design. John Bennett was working on Town Backdrop: Dulwich and I thought it a good idea to release its companion Village Backdrop—Village Backdrop: Woodridge—as soon after as possible. I came to this realisation too late however to contract the work out. Luckily, the jolly talented Tommi Salama has already created the village map so all I needed was the words!

Village Backdrops comprise roughly 3,500 words. I reckoned if I focused and got into the Deep Work mindset I could get it done in a week. I divided my target word count by five (I try to only work Monday – Friday). I had to write 700 words a day. To achieve this, I blocked out two hours a day as “Deep Work” and got cracking.

Turns out, when you turn off your email, close down Safari and ignore Facebook, you can get a lot done. I actually completed my first draft on Thursday. Deep work was clearly the way forward for me.

I now schedule two hours of Deep Work three times a week. It’s the primary time I write articles like this and complete my final edits of books I’m working on for Raging Swan Press.

Handy Links

Village Backdrop: Woodbridge is available now from Raging Swan Press. You can download a free sample at the village’s web page. Let me know what you think of the village.

Deep Work is available from Amazon in both physical and Kindle formats. I expect it’s available in loads of other places as well. I highly recommend the book if you are a creative type.

Ulysses is only available for Mac (and iOS) at the moment, but it’s worth every penny.

And a final note: none of the links above are affiliate links; I get nothing for recommending Deep Work or Ulysses.

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

3 thoughts on “Deep Work, Ulysses, the 700-Word Challenge and Woodridge”

  1. Rats! Ulysses is a Mac/Apple only. I’m looking for something to help with codifying my gaming life. evernote just doesn’t do it for me. Oh well. I’ll look into DEEP Work. I saw it several months ago but decided against it for some reason.

    1. How about a 700 word writing challenge for a five room dungeon, noble house, temple/shrine or whatever?!

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