In my experience, writing distractions tend to be more tangible and very little to do with whatever word processor I’m using. You know, stuff like having a full-time job, messing about on Twitter and more recently, organising a wedding.
Oh, I would write more, but I just spend great whole hours staring at the animated paperclip. What a problem. (Maybe we’re treating distraction and procrastination too much like they’re supposed to mean the same thing here, but that shouldn’t erode anyone’s point.)
One important thing, that these applications probably try to address but do a poor job of advertising, is just decent text design, by which I mean uncramped leading, muted contrast, and an agreeable line length, you know? It’s not really about distraction at all, it’s about how pleasant something is to read back through. WordPress 3.2 seems to be doing it pretty well.
Another intriguing theme came up repeatedly in this excellent (audio recording of an) SXSW presentation: the idea that changing one’s perspective – by printing something out, or reclining on the patio, or changing the background colour – can be helpful. Maybe you’ll groan at how damn obvious that is to you, but I for one was rather impressed, and it’s clear that software would do well to enable this. Again, WordPress 3.2 is very promising in this regard, with the great improvements that have been made to its full-screen mode, accompanying the also-slightly-tweaked “distracting” non–full-screen mode, and the untouched in situ preview function. Well done, Admiral WordPress.