September 2, 2013

One Month Of iPhone Novel Writing

On August 1st this year, I started to write a novel on my iPhone. It’s a long project that’ll end next year. The idea is to write 300 words daily on my novel manuscript, on my iPhone, and obviously there’s a point to be proven in the end. Along the way, I realized that I need to schedule time and words for outlining work, and I’ve done that on a weekly basis, more or less.

One month in, I’ve written at least 300 words daily. The 31 days of August should mean that I’d have at least 9,300 words, but some of these words have ended up in the outline. Then again, I easily make up for the lost words by writing more than 300 words daily on average. The manuscript is 10,263 words long after one month, that’s 331 words per day had I spent all my writing on it. In short, I’m on schedule, despite the change in procedure that the outline work prompted.

Some additional notes:

  • I still write around 350 (manuscript) words per session, at 11–13 minutes.
  • The word count of each session have had an impact on the pacing of the story. I’ve since adjusted, but this might mean that additional editing’s needed, beyond the usual needs of course.
  • The story is progressing faster than expected, which means I’ll have to reconsider my outline yet again. We’ll see where this takes me later on.
  • I tend to write late afternoons or during the evening. The daily alert I’ve got at 4 pm obviously has something to do with this.

So far so good. I expect to report on the project on a monthly basis from now on, assuming there’s something to report. Daily updates are posted to Twitter and App.net if you’re interested.

August 28, 2013

Another shot of the setup. Flickr.
iPad Writing Setup

It should come as no surprise that I write on my iPad. This is the setup I’ve been enjoying most of the time this summer, in my summer home.

The bookshelf features a desktop that you can pull out, fitted to a regular dining room chair, which is what I’ve been using too. I put the iPad mini on the first shelf to get a better angle. My keyboard of choice have been the Logitech Tablet Keyboard, covered previously. I’m not sure it’ll be what I use when I leave my summer home, but I decided to give it a fair shot and thus I left my trusty Apple bluetooth keyboard and its Origami casing at home. Just as well, as we picked up this combined bookshelf and cupboard this summer, and it would’ve worked less than great here. I think it’s good to be able to detach the keyboard from the stand, most of the time, and obviously that’s the case here.

The writing shelf, featuring Paazu the shiba inu. Annotated on Flickr.
The writing shelf, featuring Paazu the shiba inu. Annotated on Flickr.

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August 18, 2013

Two Weeks Of iPhone Novel Writing

Previously:

I decided not to publish an update on my iPhone novel writing project last weekend. Not much had changed since the first update, linked above, and I did say that I’d do these updates somewhat irregularly.

I won’t bore you with statistics at this time. Hitting 300 words per day on my iPhone is still no problem. I write between 300 and 400 words in 10–15 minutes. Most sessions end at around 330 words in 13 minutes, but it depends on how clear my vision is for the writing session.

It’s too early to talk about when and where I write, but something of a pattern is starting to emerge. I’ll get back to that when we’re further into the experiment.

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August 8, 2013

The E-ink Typewriter

Writing outside is a painful experience. Sure, you could do as I do now, sitting cross-legged in the shade on my lawn, tapping away on my iPhone. That works reasonable well, at least until my back gives in. It’ll work for today’s 300 words of the iPhone novel, but beyond that it’s just not ideal.

An e-ink Kindle perhaps?
An e-ink Kindle perhaps?

I’d like to be able to put out a table, perhaps equipped with a parasol, and sit in a proper chair. I could do that, but it’d be far from ideal. Laptop screens just plain suck outdoors, and although devices like the iPad fare better, they still put an unnecessary strain on the eyes.

What I really want is an e-ink display and a keyboard, I really don’t need much more than that. I can’t find it though, probably because e-ink is still too slow and unresponsive to make it truly work as a regular screen. But let’s dream a bit, shall we?

The e-ink typewriter for modern writers who like to work outdoors:

  • 9–10″ screen, backlit and with a retina-like resolution (much like the excellent Kindle Paperwhite)
  • Keyboard support via bluetooth
  • Wifi and/or 3G, mostly for sync with Dropbox/other
  • Mad battery life (10+ hours should be a piece of cake for a device like this)
  • No need for a distraction-infested app store of any kind.

The only thing the e-ink typewriter needs is a nice writing app, something inspired by iA Writer or Byword. Markdown support would be nice, but it really doesn’t matter. I’d like to be able to change the font size and margins, for a more personal workspace, but that’s not a must-have either.

Please sell me this writing device. It’s all I want during the summer. Well that, and a new chair and table, possibly a nice parasol that I can angle anyway I like too. And sun, and a cold beverage, obviously.

August 6, 2013

Writer Math

Let’s do some simple writer math. If you write 1,500 words on a daily basis, that adds up to 10,500 words weekly. On a 30 day month, you’ll clock in at 45,000 words.

In two months you have your 90,000 word novel. Or rather, you have the manuscript for the first draft.

Photo by M. Valdes (CC)
Photo by M. Valdes (CC)

How long does writing 1,500 words take? That depends on who you ask, for me it’s less than an hour most days. There are times when it’ll take longer, days when the writing’s hard. We all have those days.

What does this simple math teach us? It’s pretty obvious, but I’ll spell it out anyway: Write every day, preferably at least 1,500 words.

This math is dangerous, because it’ll tempt you to consider what 2,000 words daily would mean (14,000 words weekly, 60,000 words monthly, just a month and a half until you reach the 90,000 words mark mentioned above). Or maybe 3,000 words (21,000 words weekly, 90,000 words monthly), some of us could crank that out on a daily basis right? These are tempting, yet dangerous, numbers. It’s all too easy to get lost there.

My advice: Pick a sensible daily word count, cut it down to 70%, and achieve it every day.

It’s as simple, and as hard, as that.

August 4, 2013

Four Days Of #MobNov

I’ve written 300+ words daily for four days straight, on my iPhone, and thus far the iPhone novel writing project that will be part of my everyday life for the coming six months is coming along nicely. Four days out of (up to) 184 is almost nothing, but I’ve made some initial observations:

  • 300 words daily is an easy target, which was the whole point.
  • Starting a new writing project is awarding, and thus I’ve written more than 300 words on the first days (594, 578, 747, and finally, 316 words today). I expect the word counts to normalize at between 300 and 400 words.
  • I’ll have to be careful not falling into the “lots of short chapters” trap, where each writing session turns out to be a chapter. This has been the case up until now, and might mean that the structure of the draft will need more work than usual when I’m done.
  • The outline is, as expected, crucial since every writing session is so short.

I’ll report back on the project in regular intervals, weekly to begin with (on Sundays, as you might’ve gathered). If you want daily updates, follow me on Twitter and/or App.net. The updates pertaining this projects are marked with the #MobNov hashtag.

August 2, 2013

Photo by snigl3t (CC)
Indecisiveness

Most writers know about indecisiveness. It’s what we have to face time and time again, be it while we’re working on an outline, writing the first draft, or editing our final manuscript. There’ll always be situations when we’re struggling to decide where to go next.

Photo by snigl3t (CC)
Photo by snigl3t (CC)

Personally, I think the worst indecisiveness you’ll face is what to do next, the next project. Being creative creatures, we tend to have quite a lot of ideas. Where to go next is hard since it means choosing between these brain children of our imaginations. It can be a crippling decision.

At times, the next project is obvious. Perhaps some outer factor have made the decision for you, like a contract with a publisher for example. That can be a good thing, it might feel like a lifesaver. It could also be suffocating in its own way, but at least there’s no indecisiveness to tackle, only your own discipline to get the job done.

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August 1, 2013

I’m Writing A Novel On My iPhone

That I love writing on my iPad, with the appropriate apps and accessories, is no secret. After all, I did write an ebook about it, called The Writer’s iPad, so it goes without saying.

I’m also an avid iPhone writer. Before this wonderful device came along, I managed to crank out the occasional draft on my dumbphones, something that was a lot less pleasant than today’s alternatives.

Writing on mobile devices, smartphones in this case, is nothing new. There’s been novels written using SMS and Twitter only, and there used to be things like this in Japan back in the day. There’s nothing groundbreaking about writing long form on a smartphone, a lot of friends and acquaintances rely on their iPhones and Androids for these things, much like I do. I’ve written a lot of shorter stuff on my iPhone myself, and thousands of emails, as well as parts of longer articles. Thanks to the wonderful world of cloud computing, I’ve been able to jump into documents as needed, getting work done using only my iPhone.  Read more →

May 24, 2013

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Writing In The Browser

I like to think of myself as a pretty modern guy. I buy all the right gadgets, use all the cool services, and get all worked up when the TOS shows the internet companies’ true intent. I’m also a writer, and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, there are a literally a billion possible tools for us writers to choose from. On the iPad alone there are approximately 747,632 apps that could make you a better writer, which is why I went through all of them and wrote The Writer’s iPad. Yeah, I’m such a nice guy.

I’ve got a friend who swears by Google Docs, err, Drive, or whatever it’s called these days. I use it on occasion, to share content with other people, but I’ve never liked it, and lost way too many words due to it being an unstable piece of shit. Maybe it isn’t anymore, but I’m really not interested in finding out.  Read more →

Kindle Worlds And Fan Fiction

Amazon’s gotten quite a bit of buzz from its Kindle Worlds announcement. Basically, it’s a way for the company to make money of fan fiction, share some of it with license holders, as well as the actual writers.

With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries, with licenses for more Worlds on the way.

Fan fiction gets written no matter what. The people who write fan fiction do so because they’re fans, and thus there are probably no commercial motives. The chance to make a little bit of money by publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Worlds will no doubt appeal to some though, and if Amazon can secure some licenses then this might become a big deal.

A big deal for Amazon and the licensees, that is. Possibly for some writers as well, but much like self-publishing overall, the vast majority will make very little, if anything at all.

What’s the problem with that, you might wonder?

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