Distraction-free writing with vim

From time to time I feel like writing down my thoughts. That’s why this blog is a thing. My tool of choice is vim, an old-fashioned command line editor that stood the test of time.

A few years ago, distraction-free writers became a thing. Small writing tools that focus on the content and hide all other distractions. No frills. Just you and the written word. Much like sitting in front of a typewriter.

I don’t know if distraction-free writing does anything beyond looking kinda cool, but I do know that they’re fun to use — and fiddling around with vim sure is a good way to procrastinate instead of actually writing a blog post or best-selling novel.

Adding distraction-free writing to vim is fairly easy, thanks to vim’s thorough plugin system. Junegunn Choi has written goyo.vim, a plugin that turns vim into a distraction-free writer as soon as you type :Goyo:

goyo.vim in action

Goyo hides all other user interface elements and centers the text in your current buffer. That’s already a great start for a distraction-free writing experience, but you can take it a step further with limelight.vim, written by the same author. limelight.vim will highlight the region around your cursor and display everything else in a more dim color. Just type :Limelight to let your current paragraph shine.

limelight.vim and goyo.vim in action

Install either plugin using your favourite plugin manager. You’ll find instructions and more details in the respective repositories on GitHub.